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:
Space should not be weaponized
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