Space is the ultimate strategic high ground. Whichever nation controls this domain will have unprecedented access to the terrestrial strategic sectors (land, sea, air, and even cyberspace). The United States has been the dominant space power thus far, but the days of America’s unquestioned hegemony in orbit are coming to a close.
Very soon, Beijing will launch the first of three components for its modular space station. Meant to rival the American-led International Space Station (ISS), the Chinese Space Station (CSS) will grant China unprecedented access to low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Unlike the ISS which is truly an international effort based on peace, China’s modular space station is—like so many things that China does today—a nationalistic endeavor with a militaristic flair.
It’s true that China’s space agency has said they welcome international missions to their new space station. But simple science has never been China’s end goal. In fact, by allowing for international scientific missions to their soon-to-be-launched space station, China will be getting access to the intellectual property and trade secrets of other nations and corporations. And like they have always done with foreign entities, China will pilfer what they need.
Essentially, international cooperation with China on their space station will amount to nothing less than the greatest technology transfer to China in history.