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ASK OCE — July 20, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 10

U.S. policymakers should engage in an open discussion about possible avenues for cooperation with China’s civilian space program, according to U.S. Representatives Mark S. Kirk (R-10-IL) and Rick Larsen (D-2-WA).

“I think the manned space program has a potential all out of proportion to its size and cost for improving the diplomatic, political and military atmosphere between the United States and China,” Kirk said, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on July 11.

Kirk and Larsen, co-chairs of the bipartisan U.S.-China Working Group in Congress, visited China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in January 2006. Their visit was the first of its kind by U.S. lawmakers. Representative Tom Feeney (R-24-FL), another member of the working group, also visited the space facilities with Kirk and Larsen.

Larsen noted that China is cooperating with Brazil, the European Space Agency, Russia, and several Asia-Pacific countries. “The big message for me was China is not waiting for the United States to cooperate with them when it comes to space,” he said. “It ought to force a discussion in the U.S. among policymakers about what our approach to China in space will be since they are cooperating with others, they’re not waiting for us to cooperate, and they’re putting people into space.”

Both Congressmen mentioned that NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin’s visit to China in September will provide an opportunity to discuss an agenda for cooperation that suits the practical needs of both countries’ civilian space programs.

“The U.S., China, and International Cooperation on Space Exploration” was one in a series of events hosted by CSIS’s Human Space Exploration Initiative. An event in April featured Luo Ge, Vice Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Watch or listen to “The U.S., China, and International Cooperation on Space Exploration.”

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