Peace­ful com­pe­ti­tion in space ben­e­fits world

China Daily (Canada) - - VIEW -

China suc­cess­fully launched the manned space­craft Shen­zhou XI into space onMon­day. It docked with Tian­gong-2 on Wed­nes­day, the space lab China re­cently sent into the space, and the two as­tro­nauts on board will spend 30 days in the space lab.

This year China has set a record launch­ing more than 20 ob­jects into space, and the im­pres­sive achieve­ments of its space pro­gram have caught the at­ten­tion of the world.

China has over­come the chal­lenges of send­ing as­tro­nauts into space and one of them suc­cess­fully com­pleted a space­walk. It also has am­bi­tions to land as­tro­nauts on the moon, and it plans to launch its first space station, which is ex­pected to be the only such op­er­a­tional station by 2024 when the cur­rent In­ter­na­tional Space Station is sched­uled to close. In the eyes of many, China is now a fast de­vel­op­ing space power.

How­ever, de­spite the progress China has made in its space pro­gram, there are those who ques­tion the wis­dom of it, say­ing it is lead­ing to com­pe­ti­tion be­tween China and theUnited States that may un­der­mine the sta­bil­ity of re­la­tions.

To some ex­tent such com­pe­ti­tion does ex­ist, but it has de­vel­oped un­evenly. The US is way ahead. China has failed in send­ing a probe toMars in 2011, for in­stance, while the US and In­dia have both suc­ceeded in do­ing so. In fact, the US has suc­cess­fully ex­e­cuted more than 20 mis­sions to theMars since the 1960s, with its lat­est probe, Cu­rios­ity, land­ing on the planet.

Both China and theUS are devot­ing re­sources to the ex­plo­ration of space, which is re­garded as one of the re­main­ing chal­lenges for dis­cov­ery along with the deep sea and the hu­man body.

But space ex­plo­ration has a dual na­ture, as space tech­nol­ogy can also be used for mil­i­tary pur­poses. In­deed, the US has long sought to mil­i­ta­rize space, the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion ini­ti­ated a space-based anti-mis­sile pro­gram, known as “StarWars”, al­though the tech­nol­ogy proved to be too com­plex and the pro­gram was later can­celled. As the US wants unim­peded ac­cess to space and the abil­ity to block the ac­cess of any other coun­try, it is nat­u­ral that there are some who think China has the same am­bi­tions.

In fact, China has long urged the non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion of space. Since Rea­gan’s “StarWars” project, the world has faced the prospect of war be­ing waged through or against space-based as­sets. How­ever, China has main­tained its po­si­tion of the non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion of space. Bei­jing has raised the is­sue at the Con­fer­ence on Dis­ar­ma­ment, to pre­vent an arms race in space, but to no avail.

China is un­in­ter­ested in mil­i­ta­riz­ing space. It is will­ing to part­ner with other par­ties for the peace­ful use of space. To­ward this end, it is open to peace­ful com­pe­ti­tion so that space can be ex­plored for the com­mon good.

In­quir­ing about the ge­n­e­sis of the earth, the galaxy and the uni­verse is not just the man­date of the US, but the mis­sion of all peo­ple.

The au­thor is pro­fes­sor and as­so­ciate dean at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, Fu­dan Univer­sity.

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