The United States federal government should lift bans on space cooperation and offer a bilateral space partnership with the People’s Republic of China

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The United States federal government should lift bans on space cooperation and offer a bilateral space partnership with the People’s Republic of China.

Contention 1 Sino-US space cooperation is needed to prevent an arms race in space

To begin with, Sino – US space cooperation is currently prohibited by law

Fernholz 15 [Tim, fellow at the New America Foundation, “NASA has no choice but to refuse China’s request for help on a new space station” Quartz 10/13/15, //GK]

The chief designer of China’s space program, Zhou Jianping, said his country would solicit international partners for a space station it plans to launch in 2022, with opportunities ranging from shared experiments and spacecraft visits by foreign crews to building permanent modules to attach to the main station. The European and Russian space agencies already have signed preliminary agreements with China, but NASA will have to snub the project. The ban on cooperation between NASA and the China Manned Space Program is a legacy of conservative lawmaker Frank Wolf, who cut off any funding for work with China in protest of political repression there and for fear of sharing advanced technology; he retired in January, but the restrictions remain in place. And NASA is not a fan of them. In his own remarks at the IAC, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said the US, for its own good, ought to dump the four-year-old ban. “We will find ourselves on the outside looking in, because everybody…who has any hope of a human spaceflight program…will go to whoever will fly their people,” Bolden said, according to a report from Reuters. Currently, China operates a space station called Tiangong 1 that has hosted several multi-week visits by groups of Chinese astronauts. The US supports the International Space Station and its permanent crew of three to six astronauts alongside 15 other countries, including Russia. Both the US and Russia have committed to provide support to the station through 2024. The US has a long history of space diplomacy with opponents—as with the USSR during the 1970s. With US policy framing China as a peaceful competitor rather than ideological enemy, the current restrictions on consorting with the Chinese space program has put NASA in a tough spot with space scientists from outside the agency, some of whom have protested the ban by boycotting scientific conferences. If the desire for manned cooperation with the Chinese is not enough to persuade US lawmakers to loosen their restrictions, there’s also the increasing concerns among space agencies and satellite operators that a lack of coordination between burgeoning space programs will lead to potential orbital disaster. Tests of anti-satellite weapons have already resulted in costly, in-orbit accidents. Civil space cooperation between the US and China could provide trust and lines of communication for de-escalation as fears of space militarization increase. And it’s not like there isn’t some cross-pollination already—SpaceNews notes that Zhou received some of his training at the University of Southern California.


Without cooperation the competing Sino-US interests in space guarantee a space arms race. With cooperation the benefits would be so valuable to each nation that they would not risk losing them by weaponizing space.

Weeden and He 16 [Brian, technical adviser at the Secure World Foundation, and Xiao, assistant research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, “Use Outer Space to Strengthen US-China Ties” War on the Rocks 4/26/16, //GK]

With the end of the Cold War, outer space activities lost much of their urgency and hipness. But today space is back, and more important than ever. Modern militaries and the global economy are dependent on space capabilities. Private companies are daring to take on challenges that were once the domain of superpowers. And in national security circles, there is discussion of a renewed strategic competition in space that could pit the winner of the last space race, the United States, against the rising power of China. The United States and China have identified space as a strategic domain that is critical to their national interests and development. Both nations are dedicating considerable resources to developing their civil, military, and commercial space sectors. Beijing and Washington see their space accomplishments as important to boosting national pride and international prestige. Over time, what happens in space could serve as either a source of instability, or a means of strengthening the U.S.-China relationship. The United States and China have differing goals and priorities in space. The United States is focused on assuring continued access to space and sees it as a critical domain to its security and prosperity. Space-based capabilities and services provide the foundation for U.S. national security, enabling communications with U.S. strategic forces, allowing the verification and monitoring of arms control treaties, forming the cornerstone of the United States’ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, and serving as essential enablers for the United States’ ability to defend its borders, project power to protect its allies and interests overseas, and defeat adversaries. Space capabilities are also a critical piece of the U.S. — and the global — economy. China is focused on developing its own capabilities in the space domain, and increasingly depends on space-based assets for both economic and military aims that may be partly incompatible, and even in competition, with other key players, especially the United States. China sees space as critical to defending its national security and securing its role as a rising power. From China’s perspective, the most urgent problem is that the space capability gap between the United States and China is growing. China also seeks a voice in the creation of international norms and institutions — particularly because it perceives that it must accept rules that have been decided mainly by the United States. As the two nations act on these differing priorities and goals, tensions in the space domain have had ramifications for the overall bilateral relationship. Recent testing and development of anti-satellite capabilities by China, and a doctrinal focus on “active defense” have caused the United States to openly call for a stronger focus on space protection and warfighting. From the Chinese perspective, it is necessary to develop such capabilities to support national security, close the power gap, and defend itself from American aggression., Failure to reconcile their differences in this domain could lead to a renewed arms race that could be to the detriment of both sides. Both countries have acknowledged the importance of developing a more stable, cooperative, and long-lasting bilateral relationship in space. Washington still hopes that Beijing can be a constructive partner for greater international space security. While China still chafes at the largely American constructed rules-based order, it likewise has a clear interest in using its development of space capabilities to promote bilateral cooperation and to play a role the formation of new international regimes. Both of these dynamics were evident in recent United Nations discussions on space governance, with an isolated Russia attempting to undermine international consensus on new guidelines for enhancing the long-term sustainability of space activities. Thus, the two sides have overlapping interests that present opportunities for cooperation and bilateral engagement. Accordingly, the United States and China should continue to engage in both bilateral and multilateral initiatives that enhance the long-term sustainability and security of space. Working together, and with other stakeholders, to help ensure the success of these initiatives would go a long way toward reinforcing the desire of both countries to be seen as playing leading roles in space governance and being responsible space powers. The United States and China, as well as the private sectors of the two countries, should also find a way to engage in bilateral and multilateral civil space projects, including science and human exploration, though doing so will need to overcome strong political challenges. At the same time, both the United States and China should be cognizant of where their interests differ in space and look to enact confidence-building measures to reduce tensions and the risk of a crisis escalating into outright conflict. While the prospects for legally binding arms control measures are slim at this stage, they could put in place unilateral and bilateral measures to reduce tensions and development of direct ascent kinetic-kill and rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) capabilities. Finally, both countries would benefit significantly from improving their national space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities, and increasing data sharing with each other and the spacefaring community.

The mutual interest in cooperation would discourage weaponization.

Weeden and He 16 BRIAN WEEDEN, Technical Advisor at the Secure World Foundation and XIAO HE, Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. the national bureau of asian research nbr special report #57 | april 2016 U.S.-China Strategic Relations in Space in u.s.-china relations in strategic domains (full url not available)

Given that both the United States and China have considerable national security, civil, and commercial interests in space, this domain will have a significant impact on the future of bilateral relations. Although it is tempting to view the U.S.-China relationship in space through a similar lens as the U.S.-Soviet relationship, the differences between the two relationships and their contexts may ultimately matter more than the similarities. The key question is whether space will be a source of tension that creates instability and risk or an area of positive engagement that can strengthen the relationship. Both the United States and China should look at where their interests in space overlap to find potential areas to strengthen their relationship. Both have interests in working with the rest of the international community to strengthen the space governance regime in a manner that enhances the long-term sustainability of space, including by addressing both environmental threats and security challenges. Both countries should also find a way to engage in bilateral and multilateral civil space projects, including science and exploration. Doing so would create an element to their relationship that has a different dynamic from military-to-military interactions.

Cooperative, peaceful development of space stops weaponization -- nations will want to preserve their space assets

Hu 14 Jane C. Hu Dec. 23 2014 Slate The Battle for Space

The more nations invest in their space assets, the less incentive they have for starting a space war. Blowing up someone else’s space objects creates space debris, which can take out other space objects, angering allies or even disabling the aggressor nation’s own assets. The dangers of space debris made headlines in 2009, when an out-of-commission Russian satellite and a satellite owned by U.S. company Iridium crashed into one another, creating thousands of pieces with the potential to wreck other satellites or the International Space Station, currently home to six astronauts and cosmonauts. People are realizing how important space is,” Listner says. “If they fill space with debris from blowing up our satellites, it degrades space for them, too. Just like nuclear weapons, there’s a common sense here—we can’t get too carried away with this because it could get really ugly, really fast

Additionally, the ban on cooperation creates mutual suspicion because neither nation knows what the other is doing

Kohler 15 - Hannah Kohler is a Research Assistant at Edward Bennett Williams Law Library at Georgetown University Law Center, “The Eagle and the Hare: U.S.–Chinese Relations, the Wolf Amendment, and the Future of International Cooperation in Space”, 2015,

However the 2014–2015 Wolf Amendments are interpreted, they will still have resounding effects for U.S.–China space-industry relations. Although a complete ban of all visitors of Chinese nationality would be an almost unthinkably direct political affront, even the blanket ban on CNSA–NASA cooperation that is the facial purpose of the statute will have repercussions. The moratorium on bi- or multilateral industry communications created by the 2013 Appropriations Act will severely constrain information transfer between both space agencies, effectively blinding NASA to the Chinese space program’s current endeavors as well as the reverse (although considering how closed-mouthed CNSA is about even public projects, it is likely that this effect will hit NASA harder than China). Additionally, such a measure could cause the already tenuous trust developed with the CNSA to deteriorate. Blocking the United States and NASA from cooperating with one of the major space powers of the world—a country with demonstrated ambition and an increasing capability to achieve dominance in space—may hobble us beyond recovery, at least for the next generation of space advancements. Space exploration is no longer the province of individual nations operating alone, and

Space coop with China ensures transparency and trust.

Ressler 9 (Aaron R, Major, USAF, under the direction of Edwina S. Campbell, Ph.D, “ADVANCING SINO-U +3.S. SPACE COOPERATION”,

While possibly deterring Chinese ASAT operations, this deterrence would be a secondary effect (or benefit for that matter) of successful U.S.-China space cooperation. In order for this cooperation to take place, the benefits will have to outweigh the challenges (some which will likely be viewed as risks) for both nations. The first benefit of cooperation would be improved transparency. 82 Secrecy of China’s space program has led to a suspicious outlook by many critics of this program. Space cooperation between the two countries could be based on regular meetings which “could help the two nations understand each other’s intentions more clearly.” 83 With China as a partner, the U.S. would have better visibility and communication with the CNSA concerning China’s space activities, and the same would hold true for China. Reviewing China’s White Paper on its space policy and trying to make sense of its counterspace capabilities after the fact is the wrong approach. If NASA signed an agreement with CNSA and began joint space projects, they would more easily and directly understand China’s space activities and directions.” 84

There is still time to avoid a space arms race – weapons have not yet been deployed in space (cards on “space militarization” are talking about use of space for earth militaries, for example GPS and spy sats, not weaponization of space)

Stratfor 16 Stratfor February 22, 2016 The Real Danger From Space Weapons

The militarization of space started long ago, but true weaponization has yet to begin in earnest, at least publicly. Modern militaries depend on satellites for a number of vital functions. Orbital platforms act as a force multiplier for terrestrial operations and enable thermal image acquisition, weapons targeting through GPS and worldwide communications. Though space weapons have not yet been effectively deployed, the threat that they could be — and the widespread use of non-weaponized satellites for military purposes — has led countries to rush to create anti-satellite weapon technology as a deterrent. The problem is that this anti-satellite technology (widely referred to by the acronym ASAT) can also be used to target any satellites in orbit, particularly those used by the United States and its allies. The deployment of ASATs, though, comes at a price: The more anti-satellite weapons are used, the more debris from destroyed satellites is created as a result. This debris is continually and indiscriminately harmful to commercial and military satellites alike, and the situation is only getting worse.

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