US-China rivalry is extending from Earth into space
US and China have always been competing with each other on economical, technological and geopolitical grounds. Even claiming superiority on Earth, space has become a natural extension between the two nations and see great power competition.
After the Soviet Union’s space program was cancelled, the US has enjoyed a period of unparalleled leadership in space. However, now and then satellite observers and politicians have discussed in detail that how China’s fast-growing space capabilities can rip off America’s dominance. That concern deepened with Chinese achievements: In 2019, it became the first country to land on the far side of the moon; successfully put into orbit its final Beidou satellite, setting the stage to challenge the US Global Positioning System (GPS); and last month, it became the only country after the US to put a functioning rover on Mars.
Last week, US-China competition in space entered a new phase when three Chinese astronauts arrived on the country’s still-under-construction space station for a three-month stay. The only other space station in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS). It is a US-led collaboration with Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
The US still leads in technological advancements than China but even their space program is flush with political and monetary support from the ruling Communist Party, which views its success as a key measure of its intentional standing and domestic legitimacy.
Chinese space officials have displayed their willingness to welcome foreign astronauts aboard its space station upon completion. Also, China and Russia are joining hands to build a massive joint research station on the moon’s south pole by 2035. On the other hand, the USA is busy building its international coalition to establish basic principles for safe and responsible lunar explorations.