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Revista de Sociologia e Política

On-line version ISSN 1678-9873


CEPIK, Marco. The politics of Chinese space cooperation: strategic context and international scope. Rev. Sociol. Polit. [online]. 2011, vol.19, suppl.1, pp.81-104. ISSN 1678-9873.

This article explains the People's Republic of China's policies of international cooperation for space exploration activities. In the first place, given the tri-polar power structure of the international system and the increasing dependence that all countries have on the use of outer space, we can explain Chinese motivation for spatial cooperation as unfolding from the search for security, economic development and legitimacy. Next, we demonstrate the Chinese spatial program's current state of development, with particular attention to image, navigation, communication and data transmission satellites, as well as micro and nanosatellites. Given structural incentives, strategic goals and the current level of technological development, we seek to provide a correct interpretation of China's multi-lateral agreements at the global level, within the context of the United Nations' Committee for Peaceful Use of Outer Space (CPOUS) and within a regional context, with the recently established Asian Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO). Similarly, we are able to understand the meaning, potential and practical limitations of Chinese bilateral cooperation with Brazil and South Africa, regional powers located outside of Asia. We conclude that Chinese space cooperation is meant to increase Beijing's international influence without generating exaggerated reactions from other major powers. Thus, China attempts to postpone the militarization of space, seeking partnerships with regional powers who are still newcomers to the field, while keeping the future and expectations linked to the impact of digitalization into account.

Keywords : Space Cooperation; Chinese Space Program; International Security.

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