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Joint India-China Moon exploration could mend relations & counter US space dominance

Joint India-China Moon exploration could mend relations & counter US space dominance
Beijing’s offer to work jointly with New Delhi to explore the Moon could boost bilateral relations and foster an international initiative to counter Washington’s unilateral ambitions in space, analysts told RT.

India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, blasted off from the Sriharikota space station on Monday. After the successful launch, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chungying announced that Beijing was ready to work with India and other countries to explore space.

China’s own mission, the Chang’e-4, successfully reached the far side of the Moon in January. Chungying believes that joint work would promote a “shared mission of humankind” aimed at learning more about the Moon and beyond.

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The offer could be a way for Beijing to rebuild relations with New Delhi and prevent Washington from securing a monopoly on the Moon or space in general, analysts believe.

Ambitious proposal

Preparing joint missions in space is a “very complicated” undertaking, Dr. Kai-Uwe Schrogl, President of the International Institute of Space Law, told RT. As such, the Chinese offer is more of a diplomatic overture than a concrete, ready-to-execute proposal. This doesn’t exclude the possibility of the two nations working together in space in the future, however.

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“When you have strains in relations, you look for areas which are open for cooperation. One is culture, the other is science,” Schrogl said. “I think it’s a logical move from China if they want to have better relations with India, that they propose activities in those fields.”

Dr. Ram S. Jakhu, a professor of international space law at McGill University, thought similarly, noting that the invitation “eventually could, or should, lead to joint ventures.”

Countering the US in space?

Sharing technology and cooperating in space could also serve as a way to compete with US plans for dominance in space.

“Both China and India could also be interested in working together in order to preempt the US who also intends to travel to the Moon again very soon. The US wishes to establish a base on the Moon which it could use to exclude others,” Bruce Gagnon, coordinator with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, said.

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“India likely is recognizing that its future will be brighter by working with a growing China rather than a declining US. This reality could very well ensure that both nations decide they are better off working together.”

International cooperation in space, Gagnon noted, is important to help stave off militarization of the cosmos. He cited the UN’s Outer Space Treaty and Moon Treaty, which state that “planetary bodies are the province of all humankind.”

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