China’s Space Programme

China’s space programme has been one of the most debated programmes in the recent past. Various analysts and academicians have written extensively on different aspects of this programme. This chapter offers a broad overview of the China’s space agenda. China being the most significant space player in Asia, various specifics of their space agenda are being discussed in detail in some of the other chapters of this book too. This chapter only makes brief mention of such space activities to avoid duplication.

It has become practically a predictable wisdom that China is the post-Cold War world’s emerging great power that poses the most intricate questions for the future of international security [1]. The last decade (2000-2010) has shown a substantial growth in China’s global power status. This has essentially happened because of the current and ‘projected’ economic transformation of China. The economic growth in China has accelerated along with increased integration with the global economy [2]. The progression of economic liberalisation has shown the world the magnitude of China’s labour force, creativity, and purchasing power; its commitment to development; and its degree of national cohesion [3]. Today, ‘rise of China’ (the term coined in 2003 by China’s political establishment is peaceful rise of China[92]) has become a part of a lexicon, and the global community understands that China has ‘arrived’ and will increasingly shape the global future, not just its own.

To a large extent, this has become possible because of the correct strategic choices made by China regarding economic liberalisation. A number of factors lie behind this new global perception of China, and Chinese investments in the field of science and technology are one of them. Particularly, China’s various accomplish­ments in the space technology arena have contributed remarkably towards making ‘rise of China’ a reality.

The present Chinese space policy represents long tale of struggle, both do­mestically and internationally, as a historically great power sought to return to international prominence. Today, China could be viewed to be standing at the pinnacle of international space prestige hierarchy, alongside Russia and the USA [4]. The Chinese struggle is commendable because in limited time it has succeeded in at least selectively closing some gap two ‘space superpowers’. However, China’s space policies have been found bit opaque. Also, there appears to be less clarity about China’s actual intentions in regard to the weaponisation of space.

During 2006, China celebrated 50th anniversary of its space evolution. Their space programme is an extensive arrangement for lofting Earth-orbiting satellites for a large number of duties, expanding its human space flight abilities and carrying out a multistep programme of lunar exploration and mission to explore Mars. At this time, five of their different operational systems are in service, namely, telecommunications, meteorological, Earth remote sensing, as well as recoverable satellites and technology demonstration spacecraft.[93] China has various other plans in space arena from establishing a space station to having missions to Moon and Mars. The first phases of many of these plans have already been successfully completed. Also, the dual-use nature of space technology is fast influencing the development of their military thinking and China is founding making intelligent investments into technologies having strategic significance.

China’s space programme could be said to have began in the late 1950s when the State Council implemented the ‘12 year development plan of science and technology’, which included rocket programming, radio electronics, automatic control and computer and semiconductor technology [5]. Over last five decades, China has established a well-balanced and coordinated infrastructure of space – related institutions, including research and development centres, launching sites, tracking, telemetry and command stations and centres and manufacturing plants. For last decade or so, China is on a fast track into space. The achievements and announcements about launch timetables, space laboratories, shuttles, space stations, lunar bases and Mars mission have swiftly transformed the Chinese space programme [6, p. 51].

The China’s space programme initially began with an agenda to promote its Maoist ideology. It has transcended that ideology’s decline to become a major political symbol of Chinese nationalism, an important economic sector, and an effective dual-use technology collaborator with the Chinese military. In twenty-first century, the programme has become more important than ever before to China’s communist regime [7].

China’s civilian and military space programmes are tightly interwoven. The China National Space Administration (CNSA-established in June 1993) carries out the management and operation of China’s space activities [8]. The organisational structure and evolution of China’s space programme is complicated and constantly undergoing change. Probably, the dual-use potential of the Chinese space pro­gramme dictates such changes.

China Aerospace Corporation (CASC) a subordinate to CNSA, this state-owned corporation directs five primary divisions responsible for building military missiles and civilian rockets: the Academy of Launch Vehicles (ALV), which designs and manufactures the Long March rocket series; the Academy of Space Technology, which design and manufactures satellites; the Academy of Solid-Fuel Rockets (ASFR); the Academy of Tactical Missile Technology; and the Academy of Cruise Missile Technology [7].

China’s space programme has withstood stages of rough beginning, reform and revival and untrustworthy international cooperation. Over the years, the Chinese space industry has been developed almost from a non-existent industrial infrastruc­ture and scientific and technological level to a modern business. After a struggle of five decades, China today is ranked amongst the fastest advancing countries in fields such as communication, remote sending, reconnaissance and navigation. They have made considerable progress in arenas like manned spacecraft, satellite recovery, multi-satellite launch by a single rocket, cryogenic propulsion, strap-on boosters, geostationary satellites, satellite tracking and control, remote sensing, communications and navigation satellites and microgravity experiments.3

China’s technological and military leadership, understanding the socioeconomic and strategic relevance of space technologies, and simultaneously appreciating the technological challenges involved, has prepared a roadmap for the future outlining plans for research, investment and development in this field. The dynamic nature of technology and strategic considerations of the nation-state demand the regular updating of such plans. Till date, China has published three White Papers on space issues in 2000, 2006 and 2011. They have been published by the information office of the State Council in order to map the activities in space. They highlight the progress made so far, spell out plans for the following 5 years, discuss developmental policies and measures undertaken till then, proposals for future, and, finally, to underline international exchanges and cooperation.

The first official White Paper (2000) primarily describes Chinese achievements in space since 1956, thus filling an information gap regarding the development of the Chinese space programme during these 45 years. Detailing the various technologies and areas in which China has made progress, the paper highlights the fact that the PRC was confident enough about its progress in space to release a White Paper, making public its overall status. The 2006 White Paper also analyses the success of the Chinese space programme. The paper shows that the Chinese government managed to achieve a number of stated goals. It also enumerated the plan for the

Table 7.1 Projections made in the White Papers

White Paper (2000)

White Paper (2006)

White Paper (2011)

Achieve marketisation and

Improve the carrier

Improving ground facilities for

industrialisation of space


receiving, processing,



distributing and applying satellite data

Complete manned space flight

Develop Earth

Expand value-added business in

system and scientific research in the field



satellite communication

Exploration studies in outer space

Develop satellite remote sensing applications

Work on lunar surface landing

Upgrade the level and capacity of

Achieve spacecraft

Explore the properties of dark

the launch vehicles

rendezvous and docking

matter particles

Improving the performance and

Achieve lunar

Continue work on space debris

reliance of the ‘Long March group of rocket launchers

orbiting probe

monitoring and mitigation and spacecraft protection

Realise manned space flight

Original and important achievements in space

Promote satellite application industry

Establish coordinated and

Continue with

Work on strengthening the

complete national remote

manned space

national space law and

sensing applications


improve related laws

Develop the application

Continue with lunar

Work on space industrial policies

technology for satellite navigation and positioning Space explorations centring on the Moon


guiding and regulating space activities

next 5 years. The third White Paper (2011) highlights the Chinese desire to achieve a Moon landing and establishment of space station. It also sheds light on Chinese ambitions towards a manned mission to the Moon.

Table 7.1 shows the projections made by the Chinese government in the three White Papers.[94]

The White Papers have also been used to list achievements made so far. Table 7.2 offers some details.

It is important to appreciate that even though these White Papers communicate that China’s rise as a spacefaring nation has been visible since 2000, but its efforts

Подпись: White Paper (2006) White Paper (2011)Подпись: Xichang and Taiyuan made progress 6. Research into space environment and also observation, reduction and forecasting of Space debris; and has developed the capability 8. to forecast the Space environment 9. 7. Launched the first lunar probe Chang’e-2 10. 11. Подпись: China’s Space Programme

Table 7.2 Achievements

White Paper (2000)

1. China has developed four types of satellites: recoverable, remote sensing satellites Dongfanghong (DFH), telecommunications satellites Fengyun (FY), meteorological satellites, and Shijian (SJ) scientific research and technological experiments satellites

2. First man-made satellite Dongfanghong I was launched in April 1970

3. By the year 2000, China had launched 47 satellites of various types.

4. Developed the Long March rockets independently; China conducted 63 launches and 21 consecutive successful flights between 1996 and 2000

5. Launched and recovered the first unmanned experimental spacecraft ‘Shenzhou’ in 1999

6. China explored the upper atmosphere with the help of rockets and balloons from the 1960s

7. By the mid-1980s, China began to utilise domestic and foreign telecommunications satellites and developed related technologies. It also began using navigation satellites of other countries

China added Earth resource satellites, Ziyuan 1.

(ZY) and navigation and positioning satellites,

Beidou 2.

2. Developed and launched 22 different types of satellites

3. Long March rockets made 24 consecutive 3.

successful flights

4. Research and development of the 120-ton 4.

thrust liquid/kerosene engine, while the development of the 50-ton thrust 5.

hydrogen-oxygen engine is in progress

5. Construction of three launching sites at Jiquan, 6.

Long March series of rocket launchers undertook with 67 successful launches sending 79 spacecraft into planned orbit Developed the Fengyun (wind and cloud), Haiyang (ocean), Ziyuan (resource), Yaogan (remote sensing) and Tianhui (space mapping) satellites

Initiated the development of a high-resolution Earth observation system

Launched 10 satellites for the Beidou system and provided

services to the Asia-Pacific region

Launched and developed the Shijian (practice) satellites

and small as well as micro-satellites

Launched the manned spaceship and also achieved space

docking between Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong 1, paving the

way for the establishment of the space laboratory and space


Building a new launch site at Hainan

Monitored space debris and provided early warning against


Removed aging GEO satellites out of orbit

Working on protecting manned space flight from space


in this direction had began much earlier. Since the 1950s, it has made steady investments in space sciences and technologies. Interestingly, against the popular perception, no blind political support was available to the Chinese technological community and the PLA in space arena. Leaders like Deng Xiaoping had their own views with regard to making investments in the space arena; Deng was not particularly keen to develop the so-called high-profile projects. Unenthusiastic about ideas regarding manned space capsule and the two-stage-to-orbit horizontal takeoff and landing reusable space shuttle, he did not grant permission to develop these programmes. It is only after Deng resigned as the head of the Chinese Military Commission in 1989 that the Chinese military was able to refocus its interest in this area.[95] Incidentally, the first Chinese White Paper giving details of the proposals for the manned mission and Moon mission was published in 2000, 3 years after Deng’s demise.

Post 2000, China has made considerable (visible) investments in the manned space flight programme. The programme has its roots in an ambitious project that was formulated in early 1992 and initially known under code name 921 [8]. CASC has general authority over manned space flight and Long March series rockets. Ultimately, however, the military (specifically the Second Artillery Corps) controls the Chinese space programme. Although specific efforts have been made towards separating the military aspects from civil/commercial aspects, China like Russia did not initially bifurcate its programme as did the USA [6, p. 60]. CNSA is specifically designated as Chinese counterpart to work with other international space agencies. In reality, CNSA personnel have been dual-hated with the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation [9].

China is capable of launching various types of satellites. China has developed an impressive range of launch rockets to support its military and commercial space assets.[96] Launch vehicle technology is one of the foundations of China’s ambitions space programme. With its Long March (LM) series of launchers, it has achieved a great deal of launcher autonomy. Long March series includes 14 kinds of launch vehicles and 12 types of carrier rockets. The first launch (LM-1) vehicle had successfully launched the first Chinese satellite 173-kg Dongfanghong I into orbit in 1970.[97] On Feb 25, 2012 China has successfully launched the 11th satellite for its Beidou navigational network, and it was the 158th launch of the Long March carrier rockets. During the year 2011, China has launched 19 rockets and 21 satellites into space indicating that the country’s space exploration is ‘highly intensive’.[98] China is developing one of its most powerful rockets to date—Long March-5—that would sport engines with the thrust of 120 ton and is expected to be operational by 2014. When operational, Long March-5 is expected to deliver up to 25 ton of payload, in to the low Earth orbit, and up to 14 ton into the geostationary transfer orbit, where most communications satellites are released after launch [10].

By 2017 China expects to make significant development with its Long March technology. Long March-5, -6 and -7 would be developed as non-toxic, low-cost, highly reliable, adaptable and safe rockets. The Long March-6 would be a high­speed launch vehicle that can put 1 ton into a sun-synchronous orbit, while the Long March-7 would have a maximum low-Earth-orbit payload capacity of 13.5 and 5.5 ton of sun-synchronous orbit payloads.[99]

Communication satellites are a high priority for China because of its commercial utility. The development of China’s communications satellites started at the begin­ning of the 1970s. China’s first experimental geostationary orbit communications satellite was launched successfully in 1984.[100] [101] China is successfully using such satellites for the purposes of TV transmission, education, long-range telephone and telegraph, data transfer in finance and air and railway traffic. Their communication satellites have been launched our various programmes which include Apstar series, AsiaSat series, SinoSat series and Zhongxing series. One of their most useful programmes in recent times is the SinoSat series satellite. The first satellite in this series is SinoSat-1 which was launched in 1998. The SinoSat-2 satellite was launched in 2006 but malfunctioned because it failed to deploy its solar panels and communication antennae. SinoSat-6 satellite which was launched successfully on Sep 5, 2010 now serves as a substitute for SinoSat-3 launched on June 1, 2007.11 Next-generation communication satellites are expected to carry C, Ku, Ka and L band transponders.

Chinese leadership understands the importance of dual-use nature of space technology. Their leader Mr Jiang Zemin on June 7, 1991, issued the instructions that no necessity exists to use separate military systems for civil use and military use. Communication is one such area having dual-use capability. It is obvious that China would have used/would be using its communication-related space assesses for strategic purposes. China launched its first military communication satellite in January 2000. This is supposed to be China’s first advanced technology spy satellite.

China uses space technologies for gathering electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT). Chi­nese military is exploiting the importance of remote sensing technologies towards building information superiority. In these areas of intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, China is depending both on indigenous space capabilities as well as on commercially available international space satellite constellations. In regard to signals intelligence (SIGNT) China’s major investments are in modern aircraft platforms and not satellites.

It is interesting to note that China started with FSW (Fanhui Shei Weixing, Recoverable Test Satellite) satellite series initially more from the point of view of using it for military reconnaissance purposes. But, in the late 1980s, the design was employed for Earth resource photography and experiments in crystal and protein growth, cell cultivation and crop breeding. These satellites were also used in the role of recoverable satellites. Mastering and testing of this technology during early years of its space journey should have helped China for designing its manned space programme. It may be noted that China is the third country in the world to master the technology of satellite recovery. Between 1974 and 2006, a total of 24 FSW satellites in 6 variants were launched, of which 22 were recovered successfully. The programme ended in 2006 with the introduction of the new-generation data – transmission type remote sensing satellites, but the FSW satellite is still being presented as a platform for commercial and scientific payloads.[102] Currently, China is working towards developing new-generation photoreconnaissance satellite FSW series (1 m or less resolution).

Building satellites for the purpose of reconnaissance has been a key area of focus for the Chinese establishment particularly post 2000. It appears that the Chinese government has intentionally avoided publicity in this regard. From April 2006 to May 2012, 16 satellites in the remote sensing satellite (Yaogan) series[103] were launched by China. Officially, these satellites are meant for scientific, land survey and disaster management purposes. However, it is generally believed that since these satellites have either optical or synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors and hence a definite military utility. Some of the previously launched satellites in this series have been retired, and presently operational satellites are known to have a resolution of 1.5-1.0 m, almost matching the best in the world.

Navigational satellite system is another area where China has major plans for the future both commercial and military purposes. In early 1980s, China began to utilise other countries navigational satellites. It also developed an application technology of satellite navigation and positioning, which is now used for land survey and ship and aircraft navigation. China’s navigational programme has been discussed in detail elsewhere in this book.

Micro-satellite is one arena where the Chinese scientific community has got major interests. Since early 2000, China appears to be giving major emphasis to this technology. A Russian booster launched the first satellite in this category, Tsinghua 1, on Jun 28, 2000.[104] It was a joint project of Tsinghua University of Beijing and

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, UK. It is a 50-kg bird, and its launch put China into the selected bracket of countries, which can design and operate micro and nano sized satellites. This success has implications for both China’s scientific programmes as well as for enhanced military satellite capabilities. It is equipped with CCD camera that can image objects up to 39 m in three spectral bands.

It is important to note that small satellites are capable of avoiding detection; they also have the potential to be used as ASAT (antisatellite) space mines. In April 2004, China had launched two new indigenously developed research satellites, including a nano-satellite (Experiment Satellite I and Nanosatellite I) weighing 25 kg. What the capabilities of these satellites are, however, and how much they are constrained by size, remain questions to be answered [9].

It has been reported that Experiment Satellite I transmits remote sensing data for mapping and Nanosatellite I was designed to perform unidentified technology experiments. Such small, cheap satellites could provide China with an easier path to attaining some space capabilities and provide the potential for asymmetric warfare in space. The cost advantage of micro-satellites could, if properly handled, allow China to compete at some levels with larger and more expensive US systems without having to match the US dollar for dollar [11].

China has developed a new generation of small satellite launch vehicles, Explorer I, which uses solid fuel. It has been designed to take small or micro – satellites into space and complement Long March group, the country’s large-scale liquid fuel space launchers. Explorer I will be able to carry loads weighing less than 100 kg. The low costs and high thrusts of solid fuel rockets make them an important factor in the commercialisation of the space industry [12].

China’s successful spacewalk was conducted during the Shenzhou 7 (SH-7) mission launched on 25 September 2008 (it was China’s third human space flight mission). A micro-satellite was released during this mission called the BX-1. This companion sat was a very small cube approximately 40 cm on a side and weighing around 40 kg. Technically, this satellite was to provide images of the Shenzhou seven capsule and demonstrate the ability to inspect the orbital module and conduct some limited proximity operations. It also carried out a data relay experiment. However, some observers have concluded that this satellite was meant to test some of the capabilities required for a co-orbital ASAT attack [13].

China had started preliminary work on advanced manned space flight in July 1985. The decision came against a background of vigorous international space activity the then US President Regean’s pet project ‘Strategic Defense Initiative’. The erstwhile USSR had programmes like Buran shuttle system and Mir and Mir-2 space station. Europe was developing the Hermes spaceplane. All this probably had motivated China to undertake projects like human space mission and building of space station.

In early spring 1986, a proposal for seven projects under Project 863 plans to accelerate Chinese technical development was made. Astronautics plan 863-2 included section 863-204 space transportation system, which would service the 863­205 space station. It was estimated that 2 years would be needed for concept studies. An expert group was established for the 863-204 shuttle. The final 863-204 Expert Commission report in July 1989 advocated building the manned capsule, with a first flight date of 2000. However, the report failed to impress the Chinese government. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping rejected this plan. Deng stepped down as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in 1989. In his absence, the Chinese military decided it could safely lend its critical support to a manned space programme. In January 1991, the Air Ministry established a manned space programme office. The final plan was approved on September 21, 1992, and Project 921 to create a Chinese manned space capability began in earnest.[105]

It took a decade’s preparation for China to realise its dream of Chinese visiting the space. By Oct 2003, China successfully launched and recovered its first manned space mission. China is the only third country in the world to send the man into the space. In its report on China’s military power, the U. S. Department of Defense has stated, ‘While one of the strongest immediate motivations for China’s manned space programme appears to be political prestige, China’s efforts will contribute to improve military space systems in [the] 2010-2020 timeframe’ [6, p. 52]. Various details about the Chinese human space programme and space shuttle programme are discussed in detail in another chapter. It is important to note that China has major interest in pursuing manned space technology, and this one arena is expected to remain their principal programme for the future.

Because of the closed political system, various actions by China are sometimes viewed with military bias. China’s first manned space flight might have been imaging reconnaissance mission. However, it is important to note that carrying out operations like imaging reconnaissance either by manned or unmanned space, vehicle is not is a good option. Even a simple satellite could do this job in a better fashion. Hence, it could incorrect to assume that such missions are carried out only for the purposes of imaging reconnaissance, and at the same time, indirect military benefits (spin-off technologies) of such programme cannot be ruled out.

China’s Shenzhou design is a replica of Russian design (Soyuz) but has some more additional features, which has more military relevance. Chinese craft consists of an orbital module, a re-entry vehicle that carries crew back to Earth, and a service module for propulsion and for performing retrofire sequence. But, unlike Soyuz, the Chinese module could detach from the re-entry capsule and remain in orbit for several months, acting as robotic mini space station, using its solar panels to power instruments and experiments. However, the unit is not a re-entry vehicle and burns up while entering the atmosphere [14].

PLA strictly controls the Shenzhou programme. One indication of Shenzhou military operations was likely electronics carried on nose of the Shenzhou 3 orbital module that functioned autonomously in space for 6 months following the return to Earth of the decent module after 7 days aloft in March 2002. As per few analysts, Shenzhou 3 mission could also have carried a significant electronic intelligence eavesdropping payload. The system could have recorded UHF and radar emissions applicable to a variety of military uses including ocean surveillance [15].

The extent to which this manned activity will translate into a military advantage for China remains debatable. Most benefits to the military from the manned programme will be indirect or a function of improved Chinese technical abilities, generally in an area such as computational analysis, systems integration, and miniaturisation [10]. It also could be argued that notwithstanding that both the US and Soviet militaries have been unable to identify important advantages of a man in space over unmanned systems, the Chinese seem determined to explore that premise for themselves, likely through the use of orbital module at some later date.

It is believed that the ultimate ambition for any nation-state could be to put a human on a different planet. One of the key (undeclared) agenda for China appears to be to challenge the US supremacy of undertaking manned Moon/Mars mission. The USA could be downplaying this idea since, during late 1960s, they have already succeeded in putting man on the Moon. However, the process of putting human on other planet still has significant ‘shocking’ potential, and China believes that this could increase their global status. A single act like this could bring them unparalleled prestige and even raise their stature to a ‘superpower’.

Understanding the difficulties (financial as well as economic) involved into embarking on challenging missions like Mars mission, China is looking for inter­national collaboration. On Mar 26, 2007 China and Russia had signed a landmark space cooperation accord, entitled the ‘Cooperative Agreement between the China National Space Administration and the Russian Space Agency on joint Chinese – Russian exploration of Mars’. One stipulation of the agreement was the construction and launch of the Yinghuo probe (a Chinese Mars exploration space probe) and its Russian counterpart, Fobos-Grunt. These probes were launched in space on Nov 8, 2011, by Russia. The 115-kg Chinese probe was to orbit Mars for around 2 years and carry out a study of the planet’s surface, atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field. However, this Russia mission failed, and China has decelerated the loss of probe on Nov 18, 2011.[106] Overall, China’s Mars plan is not expected to remain restricted to a single probe. The speculations are that the first uncrewed Mars exploration programme could take place around 2015-2030 and could be followed by a crewed phase in 2040-2060.

China has drafted a multistep programme for lunar exploration. By 2013, China space planners will be landing a rover on the Moon surface. In 2017, China’s lunar exploration plans call for robotic lunar sample return missions.[107] It is also expected that by 2020-2025, China could plan a manned Moon mission. China has successfully completed its first lunar mission which was launched on Oct 24, 2007 (Chang’e-1), and the mission got completed on Mar 1,2009. On Oct 01,2010, China has launched of its second lunar probe Chang’e-2. Various details of the Moon programme are discussed elsewhere in the book.

Most of the space missions are dual-use in nature, but there are few missions with only military applicability, and antisatellite (ASAT) mission is one of them. For many years, speculations were ripe in regard to China’s plan for space weaponisation. According to a 2005 Pentagon report, ‘PLA is building lasers to destroy satellites and already has beam weapons capable of damaging sensors on space based reconnaissance and intelligence systems. Consequently, China could blind the US intelligence and military space equipment systems vital for deploying US military forces in current and future warfare’.[108]

All known and unknown Chinese interests and speculations by many analysts for many years were put to the rest on Jan 11,2007 when China destroyed its own aging weather satellite (FY-1C) by firing a rocket towards it. The details about this and few other Chinese agendas indirectly implying their interests in space weaponisation are discussed elsewhere in this book. It is important to appreciate China’s ‘beliefs’ and ‘attitude’ in this regard. It is said that China is a keen follower of the President John F. Kennedy view that ‘whoever controls space [the universe] can control the earth’.[109] Space operations and warfare in space are important elements of what the PLA warfare strategy. PLA strategists are convinced that space is likely to be one of the natural domains of war and that war in space would become an integral part of other military operations in years to come. They expect that space would become the primary battlefield in future high-technology war. To do this, Chinese research institutes are advocating research into various types of laser weapons, particle beam weapons and other forms of directed energy and electromagnetic systems [16]. Hence, Chinese leadership (military or otherwise) is keen to remain prepared in this field and is making all overt and covert preparations to that effect.

Alternatively, China understand that the issues related to security of space assets, freedom of utilisation of space for civilian and military purposes and issues which are rapidly gaining importance like space debris removal constitute an important part of global debate on space security. They are not keen to be treated as an outcast in the emerging global space order. They understand as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, they need to remain engaged. China feels that their active engagement with international space community indirectly reflects their views on outer space issues. They are making efforts to remain engaged with the various UN mechanisms on multiple space-related issues. Their all three space White Papers resonate that they are keen to support multilateral international cooperative mechanisms on the peaceful use of outer space within the framework of the United Nations.

China is making all efforts to demonstrate that they are an active member of the international space community. They are participating in various outer space activities and cooperative ventures. In June of 2002, China, together with the Russian Federation, submitted to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva a working paper entitled ‘Possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, and the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Objects’ (CD/1679).20 In Feb 2008, China and Russia jointly submitted to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) a draft: Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). In August 2009, China and Russia jointly submitted their working paper responding to the questions and comments raised by the CD members on the draft treaty.21 China is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), an intergovernmental organisation (a non-profit independent) with full international legal status with its headquarter at Beijing.

China’s commercial interests in space area are being looked after by China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) which was established in 1980. This company is mandated to provide satellites and offer commercial launch services. It is also expected to carry out international space cooperation and has some responsibility towards developing China’s space industry. CGWIC enjoys good reputation in the international aerospace industry, the financial community and the insurance circle. The company is actively involved in the international marketing of civilian products and services utilising space technology [17].