Congress

Not everyone’s happy about Griffin’s China trip

While NASA administrator Mike Griffin’s trip to China has not resulted in any great breakthroughs in Sino-American space cooperation (with pre-trip expectations kept accordingly low), at least one member of Congress isn’t happy Griffin went to China in the first place. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued a statement criticizing NASA and the Bush Administration for agreeing to the trip in the first place. “It is unfathomable this Administration has decided to engage China on space policy or any other technological endeavor,” he says in the statement. “China’s commitment to build-up its military to threaten the United States and world peace is clear.”

Rohrabacher also refers to a report published in Defense News this week that China reportedly fired lasers at US reconnaissance satellites as they passed over Chinese territory, perhaps as a test to see what would be required to temporarily blind the spacecraft. “This latest revelation of the Chinese firing ground-based lasers to blind our reconnaissance satellites while high level officials from NASA are participating in an alleged exploratory visit is the highest level of contradiction.” Rohrabacher, as many know, has long been critical of the Chinese government in general, and any interaction with the Chinese in space or other high-tech fields.

21 comments to Not everyone’s happy about Griffin’s China trip

  • vze3gz45

    I think he is full of … The closer we can bring China to us, the more likely we can open up China to more personal freedom and democracy internally through our influence. Being involved with their space program will allow us to influence the direction it moves in. The lack of freedom and democracy argument against China is bull.. because we have been in “bed” with Saudi Arabia for over 50 years because of oil and they are one of the bigest anti-democratic and anti-freedom countries in the world today.

    vze3gz45

  • Al Fansome

    I agree there is a contradiction here — but the nature of the contradiction depends on where you stand.

    Note that thousands of young Americans are dying in the Middle East for “freedom and democracy.

    There is an alternative view here — maybe our relations with Saudi Arabia are bull.

    I have written here before that a US deal, to get in bed with China on a space program in a major way, would be politically unacceptable to Congress. The WH clearly understands this. Rohrabacher is just sending a shot across the Administration’s bow to make sure they don’t forget.

    The only reason that China was allowed to acquire “Most Favored Nation’s Trading Status” was because of the huge multi-year lobbying effort put on by US industry, which happened because hundreds of billions that were at stake. Considering that nobody appears to be lobbying (effectively) for a big space deal with China, don’t expect anything to happen soon.

    For that reason, I don’t think China will be allowed anywhere near ISS. All the China hawks need to say is that “ISS is a partnership between most of the world’s leading democracies … so why are we letting in a dictatorship?”

    I do believe that a deal, similar to Apollo-Soyuz Test Project — which we might now call the “Orion-Shenzou Test Project” — is possible. The parallelism of relating to the Communist Chinese in the way we related to the Communist Russians 30 years ago might be enough to appease the China Hawks. Also, this kind of deal has major political benefits for NASA — as it helps them politically sustain the Orion/CEV through several more Congresses and well into the next Administration.

    As they say, “in space, politics always wins”.

    - Al

  • Nemo

    The closer we can bring China to us, the more likely we can open up China to more personal freedom and democracy internally through our influence. Being involved with their space program will allow us to influence the direction it moves in. The lack of freedom and democracy argument against China is bull.

    No, what is “bull” is the idea that space cooperation can influence the behavior of the Chinese government. We already have two negative examples of that, Apollo/Soyuz with the USSR and ISS with Russia, and no positive examples.

  • Chris Mann

    I hate to rain on exeryone’s parade, but the nationalistic pride generated from a sucessful chinese space program is only going to strengthen the party. The only thing that is likely to open China to democracy is civil war.

    “Orion-Shenzou Test Project”

    I’d put good odds on it being the Shenzou-Sundancer test project.

  • Nemo

    I hate to rain on exeryone’s parade, but the nationalistic pride generated from a sucessful chinese space program is only going to strengthen the party.

    That’s not raining on my parade… in fact, our points are complementary. I’m saying that space cooperation won’t influence the Chinese government, and you’re saying that space success will strengthen the party (and thereby increase their resistance to outside influence).

    It’s the people who think that an ISS-Shenzhou docking will lead to the Chinese government playing nice who need the reality check.

  • Al Fansome

    You guys are raining on Dwayne Day’s parade. I am wondering if Dwayne will now weigh in. If he does, I am guessing he will say that he was only floating an “idea” when he last proposed it, rather than take a stand for it.

    BTW, I have to agree with Chris — that a deal with the Chinese government would lend them “credibility”. Since it is in Red China’s interest, you you would expect them to lobby for this type of deal — which they have been doing.

    These types of diplomatic gestures are extremely important to the Chinese dicators. For example, look how hard they campaigned to have the Olympics held in China. It took China quite some time to persuade the international community to let them win the olympics deal, but they eventually succeeded.

    Don’t expect them to go away soon on a space deal.

    But I am also assuming they will get much smarter about it — and some day they will offer the US something we want. That is when the debate will get interesting.

    – Al

  • J.J.

    That’s Dana for you. This modest opening on space with China is probably the least important problem we face today. But, it’s the one that gets his goat.

    The lunar program seems to be turning into an expensive black hole. The rest of NASA is being gutted to pay for it. And our overall fiscal policies mean that we may not have enough money to pay for it all when the bird sh** hits the fan tail.

    The war in Iraq gets worse every week. Afghanistan is being to deteriorate despite five years of American efforts. And all this is fueling global jihad that will haunt us for years to come.

    It seems like Dana’s fingerprints are all over these policies. He certainly has been a loyal soldier of the president on most if not all of these matters. He’s a leading figure in a Congress whose oversight of the administrative branch has been nothing short of pathetic.

  • J.J.

    That’s Dana for you. This modest opening on space with China is probably the least important problem we face today. But, it’s the one that gets his goat.

    The lunar program seems to be turning into an expensive black hole. The rest of NASA is being gutted to pay for it. And our overall fiscal policies mean that we may not have enough money to pay for it all when the bird sh** hits the fan tail.

    The war in Iraq gets worse every week. Afghanistan is being to deteriorate despite five years of American efforts. And all this is fueling global jihad that will haunt us for years to come.

    It seems like Dana’s fingerprints are all over these policies. He certainly has been a loyal soldier of the president on most if not all of these matters. He’s a leading figure in a Congress whose oversight of the administrative branch has been nothing short of pathetic.

  • i_s_s_alpha

    National Interests beats all, including having to deal with a dictatorship.

    The U.S. MUST engage an emerging China so that the inevitable asian economic/geo-political epicenter shift to China will in the end be a benefit to the U.S. and not a future obstacle/potential adversary.

    The U.S. Administration (and the new Japanese Prime Minister) have realized this and are, and will continue, to send clear signals to China on their willingness to consider future cooperation.

    Mike Griffen’s visit was but one of these signals.

    The spread of democracy, cooperation with a dictatorship, continued threats of the invasion of Taiwan, etc. honestly take a back seat to what will in the end best serve the National Interest.

    And, although one of our National Interests is the spread of democracy, that has to be balanced with the others: strengthen alliances to fight global terrorism, prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction, promote a global free market and free trade, transform America’s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century, and most importantly:

    DEVELOP AGENDAS FOR COOPERATIVE ACTION WITH OTHER MAIN CENTERS OF GLOBAL POWER

    I think that last statement pretty much explains why the U.S. is sending signals to China.

    All that was taken from the U.S. National Strategy document at:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nssall.html

    I am sure a lot of people do not agree with this policy but that’s what it is: POLICY. The only way that it will change is when a new Administration moves in and changes it, or if the current Administration changes it. Otherwise, POLICY IS POLICY and it will be followed, hence the visit of Mike Griffen to China.

    i_s_s_alpha

  • vze3gz45

    ‘I am sure a lot of people do not agree with this policy but that’s what it is: POLICY. The only way that it will change is when a new Administration moves in and changes it, or if the current Administration changes it. Otherwise, POLICY IS POLICY and it will be followed, hence the visit of Mike Griffen to China.

    i_s_s_alpha’

    I think the policy is a good thing for the US. Engaging China diplomatically, economically, technologically and in space is a good thing. Other countries in Europe and Russia are working with them in space and so should we. They are not like the soviet union. They dont walk into countires and take them. Also, we are economically linked with China in a way that we were not linked with the soviet union. This past weekend, 2 chinese navy ships docked in a San Diago harbor just like our navy ships dock in Chinese harbors. I dont think we did things like this with the soviets. I also think that China has and will have more money to spend on space than the Russians, so we should work with China in space in manned and unmanned programs. If China wanted to go to the ISS now, they could simply make a deal with Russia, Energia and go. I dont think the US could stop this. I went to China and am impressed by some of their cities like Shenzen.

    vze3gz45

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  • vze3gz45: Excellent points, and I pretty much agree with all of them.

    In the wider picture of humanity’s move into space, having China involved is a very important asset. China represents one more branch of humanity — one more civilization with its own ways of looking at the world — with the interest and ability to get into space. The more of these there are, the more likely it is that one of them will find a reason to be actively interested at any point in time. As long as it doesn’t degerate into active military confruntation, I would call what’s going on now “healthy competition.”

    – Donald

  • Tom

    J.J. has it right. Iraqnam is turning into a nightmarish quagmire. Surprisingly, Afghanistam is also souring rapidly. Hundreds of billions of $ are being poured into these enterprises. Does anyone in their right mind think that the extravigant and ill-thought policies of a failed administration are sustainable? C’mon guys…this endeavor is a dead man walking. NASA is prattling around on borrowed time.

  • NASA is prattling around on borrowed time.

    Er … you mean borrowed money, right?

  • vze3gz45

    ‘Does anyone in their right mind think that the extravigant and ill-thought policies of a failed administration are sustainable?’

    Well, I think Orion, Aries, Constellation and VSE are sustainable because both Republicians and Democrats support it now and are likely to support it into the future. This country does not have a choice. There is no legitimate option for NASA’s existance in space into the future other than VSE.

    vze3gz45

  • Nemo2

    >>>

    I note that you did not say “There is no legitimate option for AMERICA’S existence in space into the future other than VSE.”

    Your statement makes does not take a stand on whether it really matters if a particular bureaucracy has an existence. What matters is an expanding American presence in space, and there are many ways this can happen other than NASA.

    - Nemo2

  • vze3gz45

    They dont walk into countires and take them.

    Forgotten Tibet?

  • vze3gz45

    ‘Forgotten Tibet?’

    Tibet is part of China. Just like Taiwan is also part of China, and Hawaii is part of the U.S.

    vze3gz45

  • Chance

    Yeah, the Tibetans showered the Chinese with rose petals when they came in, didn’t they? And the Tawainese are tripping over themselves to rejoin the mainland. Whatever dude.

  • vze3gz45

    ‘Yeah, the Tibetans showered the Chinese with rose petals when they came in, didn’t they? And the Tawainese are tripping over themselves to rejoin the mainland. Whatever dude.’

    Yeah, and I am sure the Hawaii’s and Mexicans welcomed the US when we took California and Hawaii.
    vze3gz45

  • m h

    ‘The only thing that is likely to open China to democracy is civil war’
    Chris Mann

    China spent the first half of 20th century fighting civil wars, sometimes simultaneously with fighting World War. Who did Chinese choose in the end? The communists.

    Oh, quite some Tibetans welcomed the central goverment’s army into Lhasa. Those who felt bitter left Tibet and has been crying foul abroad. What is the point?

    China is going to develope its space capability reguardless if there is US cooperation. I say the humanity is having one more basket to put eggs in if China has a space program that is independent from US space policy. Had the US been able to have its way with Soviet/Russian space programs, Soyuz would have been sent to junk yard, human would have no access to space when the Shuttle eventually got into trouble. Diversity is a good thing.