Legal Issues of China's Possible Participation in the International Space Station: Comparing to the Russian Experience

Author:Yun Zhao
Position:Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Hong Kong
Pages:155-174
SUMMARY

China has made great achievements in space activities in recent years. While emphasizing the principle of self-independence, China also acknowledges the importance of space cooperation. As early as 2001, China indicated its interest in joining the International Space Station. However, no substantive progress has been made concerning China’s participation thus far. This may be a result of... (see full summary)

 
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China’s Participation in ISS 155
VI JEAIL 1 (2013)
Yun Zhao
China has made great achievements in space activities in recent years. While
emphasizing the principle of self-independence, China also acknowledges the
importance of space cooperation. As early as 2001, China indicated its interest
in joining the International Space Station. However, no substantive progress
has been made concerning China󼚩s participation thus far. This may be a result of
political and economic, rather than legal and technical, considerations. There is no
doubt that China󼚩s participation shall contribute to the sustainable development
of the ISS. China󼚩s participation could also offer an excellent opportunity to
reexamine the 1998 framework and clarify or improve certain provisions that exist
in the current regime. While technologically ready for participation, China should
start considering possible legal issues that may arise from its participation in the
ISS project. This article takes up the challenging task of identifying potential legal
issues that may arise in the course of China󼚩s participation in the ISS and offers
suggestions for a future cooperative legal framework regarding the ISS.
Keywords
International Space Station, Space Cooperation, Inter-Governmental
Agreement, Outer Space Treaty
Legal Issues of China󼚩s
Possible Participation
in the International Space
Station: Comparing to the
Russian Experience
Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Hong Kong. LL.B. (CUPL), LL.M. (CUPL/Leiden),
Dr.iur. (Erasmus). This article stems in part from a paper presented at the International Astronautical Congress 2011
at Cape Town, South Africa during October 3-7, 2011. This research was supported by the HKU Seed Funding
Program for Basic Research. The author may be contacted at: zhaoy@hku.hk / Address: Cheng Yu Tung Tower,
Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:23:00
156 Yun Zhao
1. Introduction
The International Space Station (󼚬ISS󼚭), an excellent example of multilateral space
cooperation, is the largest and most complex manned space cooperative project in
the human history.ermanently manned multi-use facility in low Earth orbit (󼚬LEO󼚭)
  
1
The Partner States contribute
   
in the ISS. Various researchers have indicated the importance of the ISS in not only
    
development of space laws.
2
China has made great achievements in space activities in recent years. It has
developed a concrete plan for space exploration in order to build national space
station by 2020.
3
While emphasizing the principle of self-independence, China also
acknowledges the importance of space cooperation.
4
Bilaterally, China has reached
cooperation agreements with many countries; multilaterally, China hosts the Asia-
󼚬APSCO󼚭).
5
Since 2001, China has indicated its interest in joining the ISS.
6
While the
United States vetoed China󼚩s participation early on, China󼚩s rapid technological
development and international cooperation with regard to outer space activities have
led to increased cooperation between the two countries. President Barak Obama󼚩s
visit to China in 2009 resulted in a press release announcing Chinese-American
  
7
Recently, the European Space Agency (󼚬ESA󼚭)
also indicated its support for China󼚩s inclusion in the ISS.
8
All these positive
1 L. Myers, The International Space Station: Canada’s Involvement, available at http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/
Collection-R/LoPBdP/CIR/875-e.htm (last visited on Apr. 6, 2013).
2 The Intergovernmental Agreement for the International Space Station was considered the latest space law treaties
to enter into force. See C. Petras, “Space Force Alpha”: Military Use of the International Space Station and the
Concept of “Peaceful Purposes,” 53 A. F. L. REV. 160 (2002).
3 See China Planning Space Station Launch in 2010, Redorbit (Oct. 27, 2010), available at http://www.redorbit.com/
news/space/1938804/china_planning_space_station_launch_in_2020 (last visited on Apr. 6, 2013).
4 INFORMATION OFFICE OF THE STATE COUNCIL OF THE PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA, CHINAS SPACE ACTIVITIES IN 2006 (2006).
5 See the official website of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization, available at http://www.apsco.int (last
visited on Apr. 9, 2013).
6 Staff Writer, China Eyes Entry to ISS Project, SPACE DAILY, May 1, 2001, available at http://www.spacedaily.com/news/
china-01zd.html (last visited on Apr. 6, 2003). See also C. Covault, China Seeks ISS role, Accelerates Space Program,
155(20) CHINESE SPACE POWER 52 (2001).
7 See A China-USA Space Co-operation Programmes?, ENJOY SPACE, Nov. 18, 2009, available at http://www.enjoyspace.
com/en/news/a-china-usa-space-co-operation-programme (last visited on Apr. 6, 2013).
8 Staff Writer, China May Become Space Station Partner, SPACE TRAVEL, Jun. 2, 2010, available at http://www.space-travel.
com/reports/China_May_Become_Space_Station_Partner_999.html (last visited on Apr. 6, 2013).
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:23:00

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