China Wants Space To Be Safe—How Big of Them

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

The saying is “hypocrisy is the tribute vice plays to virtue” and that observation is made manifest in the China Daily article Make outer space safe for all.

Let us address the hypocrisy as best we can.


Security in outer space has long been an issue of concern in the global arms control process.

Reality: based on observed proposals and activity, the global arms control process, whatever that is, is more interested in constraining and mitigating U.S. power than it is in securing outer space.


Since the late 1990s, China, Russia and some other countries have urged the international community to hold multilateral dialogue to prevent weaponization of outer space, and put forward specific proposals for concluding an international treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space.  

Reality: China and Russia, like the “global arms control process” (hey, if they invent it, I can use it) are more interested in constraining the U.S. than in true multilateral improvements in space security.  China talks the talk but fails to walk the walk.  Consider the January 2007 Chinese ASAT event which somehow manages to fall outside their definition of ‘space weaponization’ because it was a ground-launched direct ascent ASAT.  Of course, China was talking the anti-space weaponization talk to the various space diplomats, agencies, bureaucracies, and international organizations just up until the ASAT event. 


But the US has been using every reason to refuse negotiating such a treaty for fear that it may restrict it from maintaining and developing its outer space anti-missile system and compromise its space military technology.

Reality: China focuses on space weapons while ignoring the elephant in low-earth orbit, space warfare.  Next, the U.S. is not interested, nor has it been interested in treaties that are not definable, not verifiable, nor in the best interests of the Unites States and its allies.  The term ‘space weaponization’ has not been adequately defined and literally everything put into space including debris could be considered as a space weapon making verification either impossible or totally impractical (too expensive to do and/or too intrusive to do).  Other not-U.S.-aligned space actors are generally interested in improving their position by constraining the U.S. and the ‘global arms control process’ itself is almost always complicit.


Hence, the US has been emphasizing freedom in the use of outer space. In essence, it wants to establish its hegemony over outer space.

Reality: what does hegemony over outer space even mean (and how would we borrow pay for it)?  Just where is the manifestation of the U.S. desire to establish hegemony other than the assertion of China Daily, its writers, the writers’ handlers, and the global arms control process (which actually may be all balled up together)?


More importantly, the US has realized that its advantage in outer space is facing serious challenges, and the gap between it and other countries is narrowing. This can mean only one thing: the US has to change its outer space security policy.

Reality: policy sometimes means something, but often it doesn’t, so simply stated, policy is overrated.  However, funding always means something.  So, watch what gets funded and you can know the true policy.  The current National Space Policy has not been substantively changed (unless you count “tone” as a substantive change) since the Eisenhower administration.


…the US seeks to cooperate with its allies to integrate and use their resources, which would make up for its lack of investment and help it retain its leadership in space technology. The talks it wants would be focused on its two potential competitors, Russia and China, to regulate and constrain their development and prevent them from challenging US hegemony in space. This is typical Cold War mentality. The US’ eagerness to establish dialogue with China reflects its uncertainty over space security challenges.

Reality: we know the Russian reset (by the way, the U.S. has no Atlas V program without the Russian licensed RD-180 engines) moves them out of the category of “potential competitors” (at least until they return).  As far as China, let’s get real: they’re good at taking others intellectual property and using their advantage in labor camps costs, thus creating darn good knock offs.  China wants to get in bed with the U.S. with regard to space in order to get our intellectual stuff, or at least to find out how much further they have to go.  And “The US’ eagerness to establish dialogue with China reflects” not our “uncertainty over space security challenges,” but is more likely to be top down administration marching orders to the ‘in-house arms control process.’


During the [space arms control] coordination and dialogue process, big powers should more actively promote multilateral dialogue and cooperation under the United Nations’ framework. Truly effective and generally accepted international rules on space can be established only if they are based on equal participation of all countries.

Reality: China wants the ‘equal participation’ of space-faring powers like Burundi, North Korea, Iran, Nigeria and the likes in order to create a Lilliputian-effect of many space-inferiors constraining one space-superior’s efforts regarding space security (to include space-using missile defense).


China has always advocated peaceful use of space.

Reality: again, there’s a difference between China’s talk and China’s walk.  China has likely also always advocated freedom of expression and religion and the non-violent use of Tiananmen Square.


The US’ policies and legal frameworks, including arms sales to Taiwan, high-tech exports restrictions on China and non-use of Chinese rockets to launch US satellites seriously undermine the political foundation of China-US dialogue on space.

Reality: would you like some cheese with that whine?  China wants a weak Taiwan and also wants to underbid the U.S. on launches of all sorts including those missions sponsored by the U.S. government.  Plus understanding the integration requirements to place a U.S. satellite on a Chinese launcher provides China significant intellectual property insight.

Assertion: the author of the China Daily piece is

…secretary-general of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Reality: like a blind pig that finds a truffle, sometimes even an article chock full of assertions, deceptions, lies, and hypocrisy, the truth may appear.


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