The Need for China and the US to Cooperate in Space

China and America need to work together in space matters. This is because America still has extra-terrestrial dominance, while China’s capabilities in space are growing rapidly. The entire world is expected to benefit from the set of rules that govern space’s commercialization and exploration.

China is the first nation to send uncrewed spacecraft that landed on the moon’s far side. The country has continued to achieve outstanding achievements, including its Chang’e-5 mission to help recover lunar samples. The US is not left behind either, the former President Donald Trump said America would take back astronauts to moon by the year 2024. He also formed the Space Force, which is the newest US military branch. Last year in October, Trump initiated the Artemis Accords, including bilateral agreements set between the US, Canada, Japan, Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates.

Together with signatories, these accords allow the US to interpret commercial space law and determine upcoming commercial space interests without any multilateral agreement. The Artemis Accords intentionally urges the UN not to include China, which irritates international space relations when there is a dire need for collaboration to handle a common challenge. It is well known that China has been exempted from the US-led global order in space. More so, China is not a participator in the International Space Station venture.

The next space competition will be the establishment of a mining centre on the moon. Lunar mining is essential for two significant reasons. First, it helps to obtain rocket fuel for space missions by converting ice on moon’s surface into oxygen and hydrogen. Secondly, there are precious rare-earth metals on surface of the moon, which are used to produce batteries, cell phones, and other military equipment.

China is the leading producer of rare-earth metals as it generates about 90% of the total world production; hence it has significant leverage over other nations. If countries can get these metals from the moon, they would not depend so much on China.

China and the US are at the odds of many things such as trade, democracy, internet governance, cyber-security, and human rights. However, President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to look at those issues and cooperate for the best American interests. Global threats such as climate change and pandemics are some of the areas that need cooperation. Many are hopeful with the Biden’s administration that it will help to restore American’s global legitimacy by establishing a multilateral process with all relevant parties been involved.