When it comes to the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China, the sky is by no means the limit.
As the two countries jockey for economic, technological, geopolitical and even ideological superiority on Earth, space has become a natural extension — and crucial frontier — in their great power competition.
And due to the inherent dual-use nature of space technologies, what’s at stake extends far beyond mere scientific prestige and global standing. In addition to national defense, so much of our life on Earth — from digital communications to navigation — depends on satellites in space.
That concern has only deepened with a series of important and high profile Chinese achievements: In 2019, it became the first country to land on the far side of the moon; last year, it successfully put into orbit its final Beidou satellite, setting the stage to challenge the US Global Positioning System (GPS); and last month, it became the only country after the US to put a functioning rover on Mars.
Despite its advancements, China’s space technology still lags behind the US. But China’s space program is flush with political and monetary support from the ruling Communist Party, which views its success as a key measure of its intentional standing and domestic legitimacy.
Last week, US-China competition in space entered a new phase when three Chinese astronauts arrived on the country’s still-under-construction space station for a three-month stay. The only other space station in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS), a US-led collaboration with Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.
While the ISS was primarily a US-Russian venture born out of the ashes of the Cold War, China’s Tiangong is being built amid talks of a new Cold War. And it is likely that in the years to come, alliances in space will increasingly mirror the geopolitical lines on Earth.
Neither China nor Russia is a signatory.
Photo of the Day
Reliving ‘red’ memories: A group of visitors wear Chinese Red Army uniforms while visiting China’s revolutionary museum in the city of Hong’an on Sunday. Hong’an, a former revolutionary base of the ruling Communist Party, is one of the so-called “red sites” that have surged in popularity in the lead-up to the Party’s centenary on July 1.
Australia takes its wine spat with China to the World Trade Organization
Australia is taking its trade fight with China up a notch.
The country this weekend said it is lodging a complaint with the World Trade Organization over Beijing’s decision to slap massive duties on Australian wine.
While Australia’s trade and agriculture ministers said the country “remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue,” they added in a Saturday statement that the government would “continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian wine makers.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not really clear that the complaint will get Australia what it wants. Such disputes can take months to resolve, and prior WTO rulings have often been difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
In December, Australia asked the WTO to review China’s tariffs on Australian barley, which is still under review.
But the wine duties — which range from 116% to 218% — are clearly causing massive pain for the country’s winemakers. China is their top export market, and some winemakers have already bemoaned to CNN Business the hundreds of thousands of bottles left piled up on pallets in their warehouses.
“It’s hurting us dramatically,” South Australian winemaker Jarrad White told CNN Business earlier this year, before the duties became permanent. “We had a lot of supplies that needed to be paid for and all these orders that were planned to shift, so it’s left us in an awkward situation.”
Wine comprises just a tiny fraction of what Australia trades with China. The industry accounted for less than 1% of the total value of Australia’s exports to China in 2019, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
But as tensions between the two countries remain high, the plight of winemakers in Australia has come to symbolize the collateral damage from the escalating trade dispute.
–By Jill Disis
- A coach in Uganda’s Olympic team tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Tokyo on Saturday night, according to Japanese officials.
- The United States has shipped 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan, more than tripling its original pledge as the island battles a spiralling outbreak and resists pressure from Beijing to take China’s homegrown inoculations.
- Meanwhile in China, more than 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been given as of Saturday, an astonishing milestone that comes as the country rolls out an unrivaled inoculation drive.
Hong Kong is seeking ‘greater integration’ with mainland China, but at what cost?
On Sunday in Beijing, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam said she wanted to build on the city’s reputation as a global financial hub through greater integration with mainland China, thanking the Chinese government for helping to restore “stability” in Hong Kong.
But many question whether that so-called stability has come at too great a cost.