US “Time” weekly article on April 15, original title: Why the United States and China should cooperate in space?
Space exploration has always been used to promote deep cooperation, even between rivals. During the peak of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union also conducted mission cooperation. This is not only a means to improve political relations, but also provides possibilities for cooperation in other fields. Today, US-China space cooperation is also worth looking forward to. Although the United States and China seem to be in conflict on many issues, the nature of space is different. It is not a high ground that can be seized. On the contrary, space is like a public domain. If any country or company wants to operate safely, it must act responsibly and needs to engage in peaceful cooperation to enjoy the benefits.
One reason (the United States) does not engage in space cooperation with its geopolitical opponent (China) is the fear that technology transfer will promote China’s development. But in the field of manned spaceflight, the situation is different. For decades, the United States has widely shared the International Space Station project with 14 countries including Russia. If there was a secret, it is no longer a secret. China has proven its very successful manned space program, and adding their capabilities to this partnership will benefit the entire space mission.
U.S.-China space cooperation depends on some changes. First of all, the “Wolf Amendment” of the United States must be abolished, otherwise there can be no substantive cooperation. Cooperation may start in low-key areas, such as sharing remote sensing data. The United States and China can also discuss joint efforts to reduce the space junk belt that surrounds the earth and threatens everyone.
Most importantly, cooperation can be extended to joint manned spaceflights. The goal is to establish a joint lunar base, not to fall into a space race.
For decades, space travel has provided mankind with the opportunity to see the world in different ways. “Apollo 11” astronaut Michael Collins said: “What surprises me is how fragile the earth looks.” Chinese astronauts must have had similar feelings when staring at the earth. Space cooperation can give the United States and China the opportunity to change their mind-sets together, and can help ease tensions. That would be a victory for all countries and our common blue-green planet.