landed its rover, Jade Rabbit, on the moon over the weekend, becoming
the third country to make a soft landing on lunar real estate and the
first state to visit the lunar surface in almost 40 years. The landing,
in highlighting both China’s technological capabilities and its lofty
ambitions in the cosmos, now raises questions about what China will do
next as it flexes its wings in the final frontier.
But while there is little doubt that China has developed advanced
space technologies, there is some doubt if it will be “a responsible
steward of space,” as it exercises its capabilities there, says Michael
Krepon, director of South Asia and Space Security programs at The
Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.
China, along with Russia and
India, which recently launched a probe to Mars, has yet to endorse the
European Union’s international code of conduct
for the use of space. The code is designed to set standards for
managing the congestion in Earth’s skies, in hopes of avoiding scenarios
like the one in 2007, in which China, in a booming display of its
missile might, shot down its own weather satellite and sent space debris
coursing through the cosmos.
The latest version of the EU’s code, now in its third iteration, was released in September.
are still waiting to see how China will behave in global commons,” says
Dr. Krepon. “Will China cooperate to protect the commons, or will it
throw its weight around and act in a way that’s troubling to other
“Space exploration is a common benefit for all human kind, but space weapons are a very different story,” he says.
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