Back in 2013 when Joe Biden was Vice-President and China was in the midst of its island-building campaign in the South China Sea, the State Bank of China handed Joe’s bag man, Hunter Biden, $1 billion. Then they upped it to $1.5 billion. Joe, charged with checking Chinese expansionism rolled over. The U.S. did nothing to stop the Chinese from effectively annexing one of the world’s most strategic waterways.
That was then. This is now. Joe is in the Oval Office. His capacity to give Xi Jinping what he wants is correspondingly greater.
This time Joe may give Beijing the Moon. Literally.
A couple of weeks ago China became the second country in the world to land and operate a rover on the surface of Mars. This followed closely on the heels of the launch of the first components of China’s own space station and the successful conclusion of a lunar mission that returned Lunar soil samples to Earth.
None of this has anything to do with science or the peaceful exploration of space. It is a continuation of the same policy Beijing has pursued on this planet. The goal is domination, and the first objective is the Moon.
You don’t need to guess about that. All you have to do is listen.
In 2013 Xi Jinping called for China to pursue a “space dream” to transform China into the world’s leading space power by 2045. Ye Peijian, head of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, laid out the reality of those ambitions precisely.
“The universe,” Ye said, “is an ocean, the moon is the Diaoyu Island [Senkaku Islands, claimed by Japan], Mars is the Huangyan Island [Scarborough Shoal, claimed by the Philippines]. If we don’t go when we can go now, then future generations will blame us. If others go, then they will take over, and you won’t be able to go even if you wanted to. This is reason enough.”
It would be hard to imagine a more precise definition of what is to come.
Existing international law prohibits the national-level seizure of space resources of course. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST), ratified by 111 countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, governs the exploration and use of outer space. Article II affirms that no country can claim sovereignty over the moon or other celestial bodies. International law also says China has no right to build islands in the South China Sea and claim international waters as their own. That technicality does not seem to have mattered much to the CCP.
Bao Weimin, Director of the Science and Technology Commission of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has been reported in Chinese and Russian press as calling for the establishment by China of an “Earth-Moon Special Economic Zone.” According to Bao such a zone – to be created by 2050 –would allow China to establish the “first presence” and then dictate the rules of behavior for who has access to the zone and who can benefit.
This may sound like science fiction. It is not. The economic potential of the Moon in the near future is immense. Whatever nation controls it may well have a decisive advantage in the future here on Earth.
Speaking as long ago as 2007 leading Chinese space scientist Ouyang Ziyuan discussed China’s intent to establish a permanent base on the moon and to tap into the rich resources there like ice and Helium-3 to create fuel, oxygen, and power spacecraft. “The moon could serve as a new and tremendous supplier of energy and resources for human beings… whoever first conquers the moon will benefit first… we are also looking further out into the solar system – to Mars.”
Once established on the moon, a Chinese base could not only create fuel for spacecraft, but conduct mining activities, fabricate satellites and space vehicles, and then much more easily than from Earth launch such vehicles in the Moon’s low gravity. It would be the functional equivalent of seizing the high ground on Earth.
In the face of this threat, the Biden administration has reacted predictably. They have pushed for more cooperation with the Chinese and greater transparency.
“Trying to exclude them, I think, is a failing strategy,” said Pam Melroy, a former astronaut and potential next deputy administrator of NASA, referring to the Chinese. “It is very important that we engage.”
Biden has also cast some doubt on whether or not the U.S. will proceed with a 2024 landing on the Moon and has shut down SpaceX missions, which were part of an aggressive American push to land on Mars. Recent reporting suggests these steps may be the first in a broader retreat from Washington’s space ambitions.
China is on the move around the world – and now into space. We need to move aggressively to head them off. Unfortunately, there is virtually no chance that is going to happen with the current Biden administration.
Xi Jinping’s man – bought and paid for years ago – is in the Oval Office. His instructions are clear. Stand back. Fold. Walk away.
Joe understands, and he has every intention of complying. He gave them the South China Sea. Next, it’s the Moon.