U.S. – China Space Cooperation: A Partnership Long Overdue

  • Lieutenant Colonel Eric D. Little

The announced rebalance towards the Pacific by the United States comes with a renewed effort to establish partnerships and adopt a cooperative posture with not just friends and partners in the region, but also with potential adversaries. Despite U.S. policy clearly stressing the importance of expanded partnerships and cooperation with China, there is a continued adversarial posture maintained by the U.S. in the space realm. Failing to cooperate with China will result in a contested and congested space environment that will lead to catastrophic and irreversible consequences. Additionally, the exorbitant cost associated with space acquisition, combined with the very robust inventory of systems providing capabilities to end-users is not sustainable in the current fiscal environment. A U.S. – China space partnership comes with risk, however, these risks do not outweigh the advantages of a positive U.S.-China relationship, nor do they outweigh the consequences of a failure to establish this relationship.