Much of the geopolitical analysis depends on the surface of the earth. But don’t forget to look around: Chinese influence is raging above the sky.
July 23 A long March 5 rocket exploded from the Wenchen Launch Center in Hainan, China. Equipped with a landing, orbit and rover, the Chinese spacecraft Tianwen-1 paved the way for Mars to begin a comprehensive survey of the Red Planet.
But the mission of Mars is not just a discovery. This constitutes a comprehensive strategy to reach the 2049 target. To push China into the ranks of “fully developed, rich and powerful” states.
As President Xi Jinping explained to the Taikonauts on the Tiangong-1, the first prototype of China̵7;s space station in 2013, “the space dream is part of a dream to make China stronger.” At the time, he said that Xi China was no longer hiding “hiding opportunities and low profile”, it was “seeking victory”.
The Xi-led People’s Republic has launched two prototypes of space stations (Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2), as well as a cargo ship (Tianzhou) capable of refueling with other spacecraft.
2018 It has launched more rockets into space than any other nation. A year later, China made history when Chang’e 4 successfully landed its first rover on the dark side of the Moon.
Closer to home, the BeiDou 2 navigation system has recently launched its 35th satellite, completing a dispersed constellation that promises to provide global coverage as an alternative to American GPS and Europe’s Galileo positioning system.
If Tianwen-1 successfully reaches Mars, China will join the United States and the former Soviet Union as the only nation to achieve such a space feat.
Unlike NASA and other space agencies, whose declared goals are to conduct space exploration for scientific progress, China’s space program is more about economic benefits, geostrategic positioning, and support for development goals.
It is projected that by 2040. The space industry will be worth $ 2.7 trillion, according to a recent report by Merrill Lynch of the Bank of America. China clearly plans to take advantage of this projection.
While satellite broadband internet access can provide the most important short- and medium-term opportunities, space extraction can be expected to become a profitable industry in the future.
According to one projection, a small asteroid about 200 meters long, rich in platinum, could take up to $ 30 billion. The moon has hundreds of billions of dollars worth of untapped resources, including helium-3, titanium, and other rare earth metals.
Chinese explorers such as Lin Mingtao are already working at the National Space Science Center to catch an asteroid close to Earth and return it to China to inspect and extract its resources.
Beijing also has big lunar plans. According to the state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNAS) plans to set up a research site on the lunar surface in the next decade.
If China succeeds in building a lunar base with industrial capabilities, it could significantly reduce the cost of launching the spacecraft and serve as a gateway for future space exploration.
But China’s ambitions in space don’t end there. Until 2022 China is aiming to have a fully operational space station orbiting the Earth.
It is also planned to launch various solar power plants into low-earth orbit designed to spread electricity back to China. Beijing is also working to build by 2040. Nuclear spacecraft that are believed to allow space travel.
All in all, China is creating a space silk road. Based on Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), this new space corridor complements its terrestrial sea and land silk roads.
With the acquisition of this galactic architecture, Beijing intends to offer the international community an alternative reliable network of infrastructure and thus compete for global leadership in space.
At the same time, the space program is also intertwined with the Made in China 2025 policy, which aims to catapult China to become a world leader in high-tech manufacturing.
The Space Silk Road is a new way to improve China’s local innovation opportunities in areas such as quantum communications, robotics, artificial intelligence and aviation.
Accordingly, it also promotes civil-military fusion and the development of dual-use technologies: For example, while the BeiDou can help sail a ship through stormy waters, it can also target a missile.
“In modern warfare, space capabilities can help achieve geopolitical advantage, military competitiveness, and technological development,” said Michael Raska, an associate professor at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanjing University of Technology in Singapore. He said China is pursuing all three before embarking on “great cosmic power” status, he told regional media.
Ye Peijian, head of China’s lunar exploration program, gave some insights into how the Chinese Communist Party values space.
“The universe is the ocean, the moon is Diaoyu Island, Mars is Huangyan Island. If we don’t go there now, even if we are able to do it, then we will be blamed on our offspring, “you told reporters in 2017.
“If others go there, then they will take over and you won’t be able to go, even if you want to. That’s reason enough. “
Dale Aluf is the Director of Research and Strategy at the SIGNAL China-Israel Global Network and an academic leader, a member of the SRTA Association of the Chinese Silk Road Thought Tank.