The US just laid out its plans for the future of space and took a big shot at China’s ambitions in the process.
The head of the Chinese lunar exploration program recently described space like it was the South China Sea, an area Beijing has seized with force and militarized after wrecking the environment to build new islands.
The US is the only power strong enough to stop Beijing in the South China Sea — or in space.
Space is full of chokepoints and strategic locations that China could pin down and establish control of.
The US is locked in fight to maintain an edge on China to keep space free and open.
When Vice President Mike Pence set forth the US’s vision for the future of space exploration and combat, he took a not-so-subtle shot at China, signaling a coming space race between the world’s two biggest powers.
First, Pence brought up a 2007 Chinese shooting down of its own satellite as a “highly provocative demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space” (but the US has satellite-killing missiles too).
But the real dig at China that hints at the future of space conflict came in more subtle fashion.
“While other nations increasingly possess the capability to operate in space, not all of them share our commitment to freedom, to private property, and the rule of law. So as we continue to carry American leadership in space, so also will we carry America’s commitment to freedom into this new frontier,” Pence said.
Pence also mentioned Russia, but one of the “other” nations at the top of Pence’s mind is China, where space exploration has boomed and Beijing has already started talking about celestial bodies as if they’re a birthright.
Here’s Ye Peijian, the head of the Chinese lunar exploration program, last year:
“The universe is an ocean, the moon is the Diaoyu Islands, Mars is Huangyan Island. If we don’t go there now even though we’re capable of doing so, then we will be blamed by our descendants. If others go there, then they will take over, and you won’t be able to go even if you want to. This is reason enough.”
Ye’s mention of the Diaoyu Islands, which the Japanese also claim and contest, and the Huangyan Island, which the Philippines also claim and contest, recall Beijing’s behavior in the South China Sea, where it has discarded international law in favor of its own strength and power to intimidate.
China unilaterally, and in violation of international law, claims 90% of the South China Sea, a massively resource-rich shipping lane and maritime chokepoint. It has heavily militarized artificial islands it built there at tremendous cost to the environment. If Beijing locked down the South China Sea, it could consolidate much of Asia’s live blood under the de-facto control of its authoritarian government.
Space works in much of the same …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Politics