Space ex­plo­ration can ben­e­fit hu­mans

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS - Space should not be weaponized Joint space re­search good for the world Ap­proach of China and US to­tally dif­fer­ent

Edi­tor's Note: China has made his­tory in space ex­plo­ration by land­ing the Chang’e-4 space­craft on the far side of the Moon. While most lead­ers and sci­en­tists have ap­plauded China’s achieve­ment, cer­tain par­ties view China’s progress in space tech­nol­ogy as a threat. Are their wor­ries well founded? Three ex­perts share their views on the is­sue with China Daily’s Liu Jianna. Ex­cerpts fol­low:

Some coun­tries have raced each other in space re­search largely to ac­quaint hu­mans with the fi­nal fron­tier and bet­ter serve the devel­op­ment needs of the peo­ple in the fourth di­men­sion. Yet China has been viewed with un­due sus­pi­cion by cer­tain coun­tries be­cause of the ad­vances it has made in space ex­plo­ration. Their at­ti­tude smacks of Sino-pho­bia.

Un­like the United States’ bla­tant moves to mil­i­ta­rize outer space, not least by es­tab­lish­ing a Space Com­mand, China has al­ways op­posed the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of space and called for peace­ful use of outer space. Aren’t the US’ space pro­grams more wor­ri­some?

Al­though China is a late­comer to the space race, it is on its way to be­com­ing a space power. Break­ing new grounds in space ex­plo­ration, it launched the world’s first quan­tum com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite. Also, it is one of a few coun­tries to place a space sta­tion (Tian­gong) in or­bit — which could be the only one in or­bit af­ter the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion “re­tires” around 2025.

Like the Soviet Union and the US, China, too, has used a State-cen­tric ap­proach to de­velop space tech­nol­ogy, as space ex­plo­ration re­quires mul­ti­ple sci­ence sec­tors to work to­gether and it is dif­fi­cult for pri­vate en­ter­prises to pool the huge amount of re­sources needed for such pro­grams, not­with­stand­ing the suc­cess of Space X in launch­ing rock­ets. Along with its rapid eco­nomic devel­op­ment, grow­ing com­pre­hen­sive strength, ef­fec­tive man­age­ment and sci­en­tific use of re­sources, this ap­proach has helped China con­quer new fron­tiers in space tech­nol­ogy.

Given that space ex­plo­ration de­mands the in­te­gra­tion of dozens of sci­ence sec­tors in­clud­ing ma­te­ri­als, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and net­work tech­nol­ogy, it could pro­pel the devel­op­ment of rel­e­vant in­dus­tries. Which in turn could cre­ate new pos­si­bil­i­ties for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and help im­prove the lives of the present gen­er­a­tions. For in­stance, the po­si­tion­ing sys­tem and imag­ing tech­nol­ogy have helped au­thor­i­ties to make prepa­ra­tions in ad­vance to cope with nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, as well as help ex­plore re­sources.

The ex­ist­ing outer space rules, how­ever, need to be im­proved, as they are not com­pre­hen­sive. So a fair, trans­par­ent and open le­gal sys­tem should be es­tab­lished to give all coun­tries in­volved in space re­search equal rights and obli­ga­tions, and en­sure they are all part of the body that makes the new space rules. More im­por­tantly, the rules should bar the weaponiza­tion of space, es­pe­cially be­cause the US is not will­ing to make any prom­ises on that front.

Su Hao, a pro­fes­sor at the Depart­ment of Diplo­macy and For­eign Af­fairs Man­age­ment, China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity

Es­sen­tially, the urge to ex­plore the un­known has prompted coun­tries to con­duct space re­search. Over­all, what is at play in space re­search is noth­ing more Fan Jishe, a re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences than the thirst for knowl­edge and to meet prac­ti­cal or po­ten­tial needs.

Yet the US seems to have other pur­poses in mind — for ex­am­ple to mil­i­ta­rize space and in­tim­i­date other coun­tries by es­tab­lish­ing a Space Com­mand. China has al­ways op­posed the weaponiza­tion of space, and made peace­ful use of space a pre­con­di­tion for space re­search. As such, China will never mil­i­ta­rize space, nor will it trig­ger, or be forced into, an arms race in space, let alone adopt a new type of Strate­gic De­fense Ini­tia­tive, which for­mer US pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan pro­posed in 1983 as a strate­gic de­fen­sive sys­tem against po­ten­tial nu­clear at­tacks (from the Soviet Union).

In­stead, China would want the US to co­op­er­ate on space ex­plo­ration with the ul­ti­mate goal of serv­ing the peo­ple as a whole.

Since space is just like a high­way, trash left be­hind by one coun­try could cause harm to all. There­fore, as the two largest economies and ma­jor space powers, the US and China should make joint ef­forts to pre­vent such a sce­nario from hap­pen­ing and work to­gether for global com­mon good.

Space ex­plo­ration has be­come a new bat­tle­field as cer­tain coun­tries are us­ing it to flex their mil­i­tary mus­cles. Un­like China, whose space ex­plo­ration fo­cuses on ba­sic sci­en­tific re­search, the US has used space tech­nol­ogy to build space shut­tles for serv­ing var­i­ous pur­poses. The space re­search con­ducted by China and the US are to­tally dif­fer­ent in na­ture. Rear Ad­mi­ral Yang Yi, for­mer di­rec­tor gen­eral of the In­sti­tute of Strate­gic Stud­ies, Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity PLA

Many coun­tries, es­pe­cially China and Rus­sia, have strongly op­posed at­tempts to mil­i­ta­rize space, but the US has used ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy to main­tain its ad­van­tages in space. So, to pro­tect its own in­ter­ests and se­cu­rity, China, too, should build its own space force.

Some peo­ple be­lieve that al­lo­cat­ing huge funds for space re­search and ex­plo­ration could squeeze the re­sources al­lo­cated to im­prove peo­ple’s liveli­hoods. Such mis­giv­ings are un­war­ranted be­cause ad­vance­ment in space tech­nol­ogy would in turn help many an in­dus­try to de­velop faster and gen­er­ate more eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the peo­ple.

SONG CHEN / CHINA DAILY

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