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Chinese space program: America must retain its strategic superiority




The Y-4 Long March 5 rocket carrying the Tianwen-1 Mars probe takes off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan province, China on July 23, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters)

America must keep pace to prevent China from achieving strategic superiority.

Wwith China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announceplans to perform more than 40 orbital launches in 2021 [Communist] Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at heart, will the United States finally take China’s growing space threat in a properly besieged manner?

China wants to land on the moon and build a base thereat the end of the decade.If it’srecent successwhen a rover lands on the far side of the moon is an indication, its progress at a much faster rate than us. In fact, at the end of last year, the countryplantthe flag of the People’s Republic on the lunar surface and became thefirst countryto perform robotic docking in lunar orbit.

These developments are disturbing. The Pentagon haswarnedthat China is building up an arsenal of space weapons, and is doing so quickly, severely disadvantageous to America’s space infrastructure. The People’s Republic of China is explicitly seeking to replace America and it seems willing to do anything to make it happen.

Former organs of Congress have recognized theunique danger that China poses to our space program. It therefore adopted restrictions prohibiting cooperation between the two nations’ space programs without special approval from Congress. Now the threat of the Communist regime has grown stronger than ever, and Congress must do more to protect the nation from its abuses.

In hisTestimony of the September SenateNASA Administrator JimBridenstine has made it clear that China is increasingly seeking to undermine our space investments, including by carrying out espionage that could help the Chinese military. The growing sophistication of digital espionage and the growing presence of non-traditional trading partners provide new avenues for adversaries to breach the current United States security system.

The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Spaceexpressed concernon the prospects for an orbital confrontation with China. Its members believe that Outer Space Treatyis threatened and that an arms race between the United States and China can only lead to disaster. With both countries clearly increasing their space investments, 2021 could be the last year to right the ship before it runs aground.

That’s why incumbent Senator Cory Gardner (R., Colorado) has proposed amendments in line with steps other agencies have taken to prevent China from bypassing NASA. Its amendments will require NASA and the Government Accountability Office to screen NASA contractors for any connection to China that could harm national security.

Ensuring the passage of similar amendments at the next Congress will be essential for the health of major US space projects, many of which are entering their crucial stages of development, and will also be essential in assessing the threats China poses to US space partners. .

It is also essential that Congress protect the International Space Station (ISS), another target of the Chinese government.

The ISS is the most ambitious global project in human history. Nations that until very recently were bitter rivals, like the United States and Russia, have peacefully united to work there for the benefit of all mankind. But China is nowdevelopmenta rival station. Bridenst has made it clear that the country ispitchto our current ISS partners in the hope of stealing them. It is the latest attempt by China to degrade the Americas as a world leader in the international exchange of ideas and scientific progress.

That is why the ISS needs the full funding and support of Congress.

Make no mistake: these threats from China are just the beginning. The country isexpectedto provide further plans for its 20212025 space policy this month and publish a full white paper on the subject by the end of the year.

Congress needs to make sure it allocates enough funds to protect itself against China and other opposing nations who want nothing better than to militarize space against the United States. This will protect American security and ensure that NASA maintains its position as the preeminent space program of the modern world.

Robert Spalding is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. His work focuses on the United States.Relations with China, economic and national security and Asia-Pacific military balance. Spalding has served in strategic and diplomatic leadership roles in the defense and state departments for over 26 years and is an accomplished innovator in government and a nationalsecuritypolitical strategist. As senior director for strategy to the President, he was the chief architect of the national competition framework in the national security strategy of the Trump administrations.

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