Transparency is Key in U.S., China Relationship in Space

Beijing wants it both ways in space
By Peter J Brown
Asia Times

China has kept the world almost completely in the dark about many of its space activities for far too long. Two years after China conducted its anti-satellite (ASAT) test, fragments of the target, an old Chinese weather satellite, are still out there drifting in space. What is also out there is a lot of lingering doubt and uncertainty about China’s intentions in space.

Establishing the rules of the roads regarding space launches is one thing, and, maintaining safety measures for existing satellites and space vehicles while providing greater certainty in the commercial space realm is vital. But the search for transparency in this case propels the US onto stormy seas at a time when greater global cooperation is widely seen as a necessity given the adverse economic climate.

“[This] cuts straight to the heart of the Obama administration’s plans to seek negotiated weapons bans in space, or ‘rules based’ arms control of any variety. We have been down this road with the former Soviet Union. China will be even tougher, and even more committed to using any arms control measure to disarm its adversaries,” said Richard Fisher, senior fellow at the Washington DC-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, and the author of a new book, China’s Military Modernization, Building for Regional and Global Reach.

Lesser degrees of transparency will not suffice. Avoiding the guessing, and suspicions that can fuel talk of worst case scenarios requires openness which the Chinese have resisted with much success.

Read Brown’s full analysis.