Domination of earth and universe is the objective of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To achieve these goals, China has developed a robust and rapidly advancing space program,
thanks in some measure to American technology transfers. It includes space stations, satellites, and unmanned moon and Mars landings. Plans for the future include manned stations on the moon and Mars.
The Outer Space Treaty, sponsored by the U.N., includes over 100 countries, including China, who agree that no nation can claim sovereignty over space or celestial bodies. But one can never trust a communist. Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, and former Florida Senator, believes China could claim portions of the moon. One need look no further than China's South China Sea (SCS) claims and military build-up. President Xi told President Obama in 2015 that there would be no SCS militarization yet kept on militarizing islands and shoals. Now there are airfields, Navy facilities, missiles, and military housing. Obama did nothing to stop the buildup or to support the rights of surrounding SCS countries, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, from Chinese encroachment. As Chairman Mao would say, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Might is right!
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) manufactures Long March rockets, space station modules, and other space-related vehicles. The first satellite was launched in 1970 from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia. It was followed by 400 additional launches, including China’s first human in space, Yang Liwei, in October 2003.
In 2016 CASC launched a new and more powerful Long March rocket from the coastal spaceport Wenchang on Hainan Island in South China. Newer versions include Long March 8 with a reusable first stage similar to the U.S.’s Space X Falcon 9. This is not surprising since the CCP steals American technology and conducts the greatest espionage program in history through unrestricted warfare.
China’s recent space successes include being the first country to land on the far side of the moon; putting into orbit its final Beidou satellite, setting the stage to challenge the US Global Positioning System (GPS); and becoming the only country after the US to put a functioning rover on Mars.
The U.S. banned Chinese participation in NASA's space program in the International Space Station (ISS) with the 2011 Congressional passage of the Wolf Amendment due to espionage concerns. China responded with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) space station. The first three-man crew arrived in June 2012 for a stay of two weeks. The last crew arrived in 2013. Communications with the empty space station ended in 2016, and it perished upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2018. Tiangong 2 was launched in September 2016. In October, two astronauts on space flight Shenzhou 11 visited the station and stayed for 33 days. It was the only spaceflight to Tiangong 2. It re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in 2019. Tiangong 3 was launched in 2021 and is the largest to date, with three modules and capable of supporting six astronauts.
The International Space Station’s first module was launched in 1998, and the first long-term residents arrived in 2000. For the past 23 years, the ISS has been visited by more than 200 astronauts from 19 countries, but not China. The project involves space agencies from the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, and Europe for the purpose of scientific research in a space environment. Future Russian participation is in doubt due to sanctions from the Ukrainian war and its growing ties to China. ISS maintains an orbit approximately 250 miles above the Earth and circles it every 93 minutes.
China’s Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is responsible for the space program, which includes ground tracking stations throughout the world. The stations perform telemetry, tracking, and command that enable the operation of satellites and space stations. South America has 12 PLA tracking stations, including Argentina's controversial Espacio Lejano. Built in 2012 on 500 acres, the contract between China and Argentina specifies that Argentina “not interfere or interrupt” station activities. The contract also specifies that China conducts only civilian activities, but since China openly states its strategy of “military-civil fusion,” the contract is meaningless. Everything that the CCP does is to further its goal of world domination. Other Latin American space stations are located in Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, and Bolivia. China’s activities are opaque and hidden from host countries.
The United States and China are engaged in a space race. The winner in heaven will be the winner on Earth. The U.S. military is dependent upon satellites. They allow worldwide communications, navigation, eye-in-the-sky surveillance, and a host of other activities. Without satellites, the military is blind and crippled. China has tested the Shijian-21 satellite that can maneuver, grab and crush U.S. satellites in space. Satellites can also be shot down by missiles from Earth. According to CASC, Shijian-21 was sent aloft for cleaning space debris.
If the U.S. Congress passed the Wolf Amendment to prevent CCP espionage on our space program, why does Congress allow 300,000 Chinese students to study leading-edge technologies and sciences in our American universities and graduate schools? The universities are complicit because of the money --- the Chinese pay cash at full tuition. Surely, some students will return to PLA positions to further CCP policies. Most university research programs are partially funded with U.S. tax dollars. Many of the Chinese students are also cash transfer runners for the fentanyl drug trade between Chinese and Mexican cartels. Approximately 10,000 Americans study in China.
It is time for Congress and the American people to recognize the existential threat from China. Why does Congress allow TikTok and other Chinese-owned media to poison American culture and influence our elections? American-owned media cannot operate in China. Why should CCP-owned media operate in America? Why doesn’t Congress raise tariffs against all Chinese goods to rejuvenate U.S. manufacturing and reduce the $300 billion trade deficit that the CCP uses to finance worldwide operations? Why doesn’t Congress institute a “Reciprocity” policy with China? If Americans cannot buy land in China, why should the Chinese be able to buy land in America?
To continue to lead in the space race, Congress should appropriate the necessary monies and implement the necessary policies to maximize America’s space and missile programs. Congress should encourage and partner with private enterprises. Where would we be if billionaire capitalist Elon Musk had not founded Space X? Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin? Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic?
Peace Through Strength!
Author Laurence F. Sanford is a veteran of the United States Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency and now serves as Senior Analyst for the American Security Council Foundation. To learn more about the American Security Council Foundation and its work go to www.ascf.us
Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Committee on the Present Danger: China
Chinese Communist Party
Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Chinese Students and Scholars Association
One child policy
China space program
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)