House Republicans don’t want NASA working with the Chinese?


China's first Chang'E lunar probe launch in 2007

One of these days I’ll get my act together and finish up the second half to the post I started about Chinese domestic stability. In the meantime, I just came across something surprising while doing research at my congressional internship: HR1, the continuing appropriations resolution which has been the focal point of the budget debates for the last two months, includes a specific provision forbidding future cooperation between NASA and Chinese agencies or companies:


Sec. 1339. (a) None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division.

It’s likely a direct Congressional response to the joint Chinese-American statement which followed Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January 2011, in which Obama and Hu pledged to “deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space.” The agreement included an invitation from the White House for a Chinese delegation to visit the NASA headquarters.

Despite commitment to further cooperation, space exploration is apparently becoming yet another field of Chinese-American competition. The Chinese robotic mission to the moon, launched in October 2010, and the potential of a manned Chinese moon expedition in the future, is probably fueling that sense. I’m skeptical that a Congressional decree like this will really be able to stop the general trend of increased technological and research cooperation between Chinese and American firms.


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