Science & Technology

China opens door to space collaboration with US, criticizes contradictions

Beijing, Dec 22 (EFE).- The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Friday invited scientists from around the world, including from the United States, to request lunar samples that the agency has collected on its past missions, but called out apparent contradictions shown by Washington.

“We welcome people from the scientific research community in various countries, including the United States, to apply for lunar samples in appropriate ways and channels in accordance with China’s published lunar sample application methods,” the CNSA said in a statement.

The invitation comes in response to comments by the US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns who, according to Beijing, said on Dec. 12 that he doesn’t believe that the Asian giant has shown much interest in working with the US on space collaboration.

The CNSA expressed confusion over the apparent contradiction between the US’ cooperation discourse and its Wolf Amendment, which effectively prohibits space collaboration with China.

“What confuses me is that on the one hand, the United States keeps talking about cooperation and application, but on the other hand, some people highly praise the Wolf Clause that restricts cooperation with China’s aerospace industry, and have said on different occasions that the Wolf Clause should be permanent,” CNSA spokesperson Xu Hongliang said.

The spokesperson also pointed out that Beijing has never had any document, regulation or clause that restricts cooperation with the US in space matters.

The Wolf Amendment, approved in 2011 by the US Congress, prohibits NASA and other US government agencies from collaborating with China on space projects, except with approval in exceptional cases, due to the military ties of its space program.

The law has been criticized by some experts, who consider that it hinders space cooperation between the two powers, as demonstrated by the fact that each country participates in a different space station project, and harms science.

Next year, the Chinese space station Tiangong (Heavenly Palace in Mandarin) is likely to become the world’s only space station if the International Space Station, an initiative led by the US and to which China is banned from accessing by the Wolf Amendment is withdrawn that year as planned.

China has invested heavily in its space program and has managed to land the Chang’e 4 probe on the far side of the Moon – the first time this has been achieved – and reach Mars for the first time, becoming the third country after the US and the former Soviet Union. EFE

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