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Over the past four years, the Donald Trump administration has pursued a rigorous and suffocating foreign policy against the Communist Party of China (CCP). The Republican outsider decided that the best thing for the country was to put a stop to China’s advances on a geopolitical and economic level. Such has been the pressure that today the Chinese regime sees in the U.S. its greatest enemy on a global level and the U.S. sees in China its greatest threat to national security. For this reason, one of the main issues surrounding the Biden administration is how it will approach its foreign policy toward the Asian giant.
For now, given the record of the Barack Obama administration, there is speculation of an improved relationship with the current administration. But all that remains to be seen, as advisors – and Biden himself – will have to assess the political cost of moving closer to the CCP today, which is much more authoritarian and dangerous than it was five years ago.
Now the issue of Biden, the U.S. and China is back in the eye of the storm. Not because of economic or geopolitical issues, but because of something spatial.
Biden’s Space Advisors Urge Cooperation with China
A POLITICO report released Tuesday, December 22nd, said that “Joe Biden’s top (space) advisors have argued that it is important to cooperate with China in space exploration, even as the incoming administration treats Beijing as its main economic and military competitor in virtually every other area.”
The news, of course, has raised a point of speculation about how Joe Biden and his administration will treat China. Especially given the latest polemics surrounding the CCP, which is plagued by espionage and technology theft scandals. Not to mention the constant development of authoritarianism and disregard for human and individual rights in the country they rule.
According to the article, Biden’s space advisors have different arguments for approaching the CCP in the space area.
The first is that China is developing a successful program in this area that in a short time could attract different partners at a global level, leaving the American space plan behind. Recently, China became the third nation to recover samples from the Moon, the latest in a series of achievements in its ambitious space program.
The second reason, according to the POLITICO report, is that “despite China’s pattern of stealing American technology and diverting it to military purposes, a limited space partnership between Washington and Beijing could reduce tensions and the likelihood of a destabilizing space race. The move would be similar to cooperation between U.S. and Russian civilian space programs during the height of the Cold War.
“Trying to exclude them I think is a failed strategy,” exastronaut Pam Melroy, a member of Biden’s transition team at NASA who is among those being considered to head the space agency, told POLITICO before the election. “It’s very important that we get engaged,” Melroy said.
The report details that “most of the nearly two dozen ex-astronauts, government officials and space experts interviewed by POLITICO agreed that the United States could lose its position as a world leader in space if it excludes Beijing entirely.”
The Capitol has interference
But the fact is that this cooperation is not so easy. There are many people who oppose it because of the threat posed by Beijing, and there is also a bipartisan interest from the Capitol to stop these space cooperation initiatives.
“One of the barriers to working with China is that Congress made it more difficult for the two nations to collaborate in space, citing Beijing’s history of intellectual property theft, using technology developed by other nations or companies to bolster its military, and violating human rights,” the report says.
According to the research, in 2011 a former House Republican, Frank Wolf, “included an amendment in the NASA authorization bill that prohibited the space agency and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from spending any money allocated for cooperation with China.”
Basically, if either agency wanted to work with China, they had to apply for a specific, exceptional permit from the FBI, “which would have to certify that there was no risk of sharing information and that none of the Chinese officials involved had committed human rights abuses. This is not a minor matter in achieving cooperation.
Wolf, who retired from Congress in 2015, left this language included in each year’s appropriations bills, including the 2020 fiscal spending bill for the space agency.
In addition, space cooperation also has the historical problem of lack of trust between the two nations.
China: the biggest threat to national security
Last July, the FBI director said that the Chinese regime represented the greatest threat to national security.
“FBI Director Christopher Wray said that acts of espionage and information theft by China represent ‘the greatest long-term threat’ to the security of the United States,” reads Infobae.
In December, the director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, also mentioned that China was the main threat to the United States and that the Asian country is preparing for “a period of endless confrontation with the United States.
Ratclife urged bipartisan action to address what he considered “the greatest threat to the United States” and to “democracy in the world since World War II.
If there is one thing that President Trump left at a high level, besides the economic section, it is his foreign policy work. He has weakened Iran and strengthened his allies in the Middle East, fought China, put pressure on Communist tyrannies and improved relations with the rest of the world.
The Biden administration, as much as it wants to get rid of Trump’s legacy, will have to surgically assess what to change and what not to change in foreign policy. And China will be the right measure of what the Democratic government will do in this area.
The Democrat’s transition team has yet to comment on its plans for the Chinese regime and space cooperation, if any. In his presidential campaign, he did not address the issue much either.