The Guardian October 22, 2003


China's giant step into space

China's first manned space flight last week, although just a 
small step into space is a giant step for China. It has enormous 
significance in terms of China's science, industry, politics, 
international influence, national prestige and military 
achievements.

China's 10th Five-Year Plan adopted for 2001-2005 included the 
country's space development.

First to come were a series of unmanned flights (already 
achieved) and then manned space flights. Following the successful 
launch and retrieval of manned near-earth orbit satellites will 
come space-walking and docking; the development and launching of 
a space laboratory and the manning of a Chinese built space 
station in near-earth orbit.

Space station

At present, the only operational space station in near-earth 
orbit is one put up by Russia and the US. This has fallen on hard 
times with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fatal accident 
that put the US Columbia space vehicles out of service.

A mock-up of a "Space Laboratory" was released in China in 
February 2003 and it is to be put into orbit "no earlier than 
2010", said Beijing Review on September 18 this year.

China will then put a man on the moon and will "be able to 
actively participate in competition and co-operation, solving 
problems concerning lunar resources and the sharing of the 
benefits among different nations", writes Beijing Review.

The magazine says: "For several thousand research institutes and 
companies in China, the project offers an unprecedented chance. 
The project could facilitate updates and improvements to large-
scale R&D establishments.

"In order to improve international co-operation, the China 
National Space Administration has established the Secretariat for 
Asia-Pacific Multilateral Co-operation in Outer Space.

"The manned space flight project will help the strategists and 
decision-makers recognise the strategic importance of our space 
security to the nation's security. An important component of the 
US and Russian military security strategies is related to [their] 
space flight strategies and [their] mastery of space.

"However, China is against the militarisation of outer space and 
hopes to warn its people of unsteady factors from the outer 
space", says Beijing Review.

Military-free zone

"China believes that outer space should be a military-free zone 
and will be able to play a more important role in agendas like 
the prevention of an arms race and the protection of its domain 
in outer space after it rises as a nation with advanced space 
technologies".

Beijing Review lists China's space program together with 
the Olympic Games in 2008, the 60th anniversary of the founding 
of the People's Republic of China in 2009 and the World Expo in 
2010 to be held in Shanghai, as evidence of China's advancement 
and rise to power among the nations of the world.

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