Author Topic: ESA policy towards China  (Read 5419 times)

Offline eeergo

ESA policy towards China
« on: 01/23/2023 09:58 am »
Unfortunately, Earthly conflicts continue to impact international collaborations, especially regarding European ventures...

https://twitter.com/AJ_FI/status/1617447212933341184
-DaviD-

Offline Blackhavvk

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #1 on: 01/23/2023 10:53 am »
Europe did not have serious political problems with China. I think third party pressure was the reason.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:52 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline JSz

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #2 on: 01/23/2023 06:05 pm »
Just as Europe has no problems with Russia because this 'third party' has invaded this peaceful country....
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:52 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Blackhavvk

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #3 on: 01/23/2023 07:46 pm »
Just as Europe has no problems with Russia because this 'third party' has invaded this peaceful country....
What does Russia have to do with it? It has nothing to do with the refusal of any cooperation other than NASA.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:53 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline JSz

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Re: Re: Tiangong - Chinese Space Station
« Reply #4 on: 01/23/2023 09:43 pm »
And what does the US have to do with ESA-China cooperation?

Offline Blackhavvk

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #5 on: 01/23/2023 11:04 pm »
And what does the US have to do with ESA-China cooperation?
The European Space Agency said that the issue is also in the political arena. I simply cannot think of any other options, except for a request from the USA. Can you suggest another?
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:54 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline eeergo

Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #6 on: 01/24/2023 05:18 am »
And what does the US have to do with ESA-China cooperation?

I could tell you about that (recent, pre-Ukraine mayhem) time an American ambassador came over to Italian gov and private sector representatives at a conference to make them retrace the timid cooperation steps they'd just ratified with CNSA. Directly, no under-the-table, incentive-based, subtle diplomacy involved. Dealing with Russia in multiple fronts was still quite kosher at the time, mind you.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:55 am by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline woods170

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #7 on: 01/24/2023 02:38 pm »
Europe did not have serious political problems with China. I think third party pressure was the reason.

Correct. That third party is the USA. Washington sent out a "friendly reminder" that ESA is participating in Artemis, not to mention offsetting its use of the ISS, thru supplying ESM's and Gateway components. The threat made was that ESA might lose (part of) that work, and thus lose most of its crewed spaceflight program (not to mention risk astronaut opportunities to the ISS) if it took cooperation with China (on crewed spaceflight to Tiangong) any further.

As usual, ESA succumbed to the pressure. It is a fact that ESA's interests in American spaceflight are still much greater than is ESA's interests in Chinese spaceflight.


All of this is nothing new by the way. I distinctly remember the tongue-lashing ESA got from Washington when ESA decided to take part in China's Double Star mission. Two of my NRM co-volunteers worked for ESA back then and were direct witnesses to that little episode of "rectifiying trans-atlantic relationships". The USA did not like it one bit that highly advanced Western instruments were to be flown on Chinese spacecraft. Neither did they like the Chinese prime minister being given a private tour in and around the most advanced (back then) spacecraft that ESA had ever produced: the ATV. Chinaphobia very much was already a thing in the USA 20 years ago.
« Last Edit: 01/24/2023 02:51 pm by woods170 »

Offline su27k

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #8 on: 01/24/2023 02:47 pm »
Just as Europe has no problems with Russia because this 'third party' has invaded this peaceful country....
What does Russia have to do with it? It has nothing to do with the refusal of any cooperation other than NASA.

The Russian fiasco is a reminder that cooperation with an authoritarian country is a big mistake, ESA should have learned the lesson without having the US to remind them.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:56 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline woods170

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #9 on: 01/24/2023 02:58 pm »
Just as Europe has no problems with Russia because this 'third party' has invaded this peaceful country....
What does Russia have to do with it? It has nothing to do with the refusal of any cooperation other than NASA.

The Russian fiasco is a reminder that cooperation with an authoritarian country is a big mistake, ESA should have learned the lesson without having the US to remind them.

Just in case you didn't know, but ESA has been cooperating with China, on a multitude of spaceflight subjects, since 1979. Washington more or less "accepts" the ESA-China cooperations regarding space science, Earth observation, navigation and uncrewed planetary exploration. But Washington draws the line at crewed spaceflight.

Online Asteroza

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #10 on: 01/24/2023 10:19 pm »
Though to be fair, the mention of inability to deal with a second station would also cover any private stations as well (at least in a major partner or lead position, maybe if they were invited along for the ride the story might change)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #11 on: 01/26/2023 08:04 pm »
Just as Europe has no problems with Russia because this 'third party' has invaded this peaceful country....
What does Russia have to do with it? It has nothing to do with the refusal of any cooperation other than NASA.

The Russian fiasco is a reminder that cooperation with an authoritarian country is a big mistake, ESA should have learned the lesson without having the US to remind them.

In this case it is the US which is acting as an authoritarian country, demanding that other countries follow it's directives and threatening consequences of they do not. 
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:57 am by zubenelgenubi »
Apologies in advance for any lack of civility - it's unintended

Offline su27k

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #12 on: 01/27/2023 02:11 am »
In this case it is the US which is acting as an authoritarian country, demanding that other countries follow it's directives and threatening consequences of they do not.

That's not what "authoritarian" means, a simple dictionary lookup should show that. If US did remind ESA that participation in ISS/Artemis require them to stop working with China on HSF, then that's just normal diplomacy which every country does in one form or another. Heck, it's not much difference from Chris requiring you to follow the rules when participating in this forum. If a L2 member leaks L2 information to the public, then gets a "friendly reminder" that if he keeps doing this he will be kicked out of L2, that's not Chris being an "authoritarian", that's just him doing what he's supposed to do.

And let's not forget all of this is unconfirmed rumor, in fact the ESA Director General also said that "budgetary" is also a reason, so it's not just "political", whatever that means.


Just in case you didn't know, but ESA has been cooperating with China, on a multitude of spaceflight subjects, since 1979. Washington more or less "accepts" the ESA-China cooperations regarding space science, Earth observation, navigation and uncrewed planetary exploration. But Washington draws the line at crewed spaceflight.

Things have changed drastically since 1979, my point is that what US said doesn't matter, it is in ESA's own best interest to decouple from China. It doesn't take a genius to look at what is happening in Ukraine then look at what is brewing over Taiwan, and conclude that any cooperation with China could very well end up like ExoMars in the not too distant future.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 03:58 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline vp.

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #13 on: 01/27/2023 08:18 am »
ESA : "wouaf, wouaf"

Offline woods170

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #14 on: 01/27/2023 08:25 am »
In this case it is the US which is acting as an authoritarian country, demanding that other countries follow it's directives and threatening consequences of they do not.

That's not what "authoritarian" means, a simple dictionary lookup should show that. If US did remind ESA that participation in ISS/Artemis require them to stop working with China on HSF, then that's just normal diplomacy which every country does in one form or another.

And there is your problem: ESA working with China on HSF never was a problem to the USA (until 2 years ago), as far as ESA's presence in ISS and Artemis is concerned. ESA's access to ISS never was dependent on them NOT working with China on HSF. The only USA requirement was that ESA raise a "firewall" between their "ISS" and "China" efforts. Same for Artemis: the USA invited ESA to cooperate, without the stipulation that "thou shalt not cooperate with China". They merely wanted a guarantee that technology developed for Artemis would not fall in Chinese hands via ESA. The proposed mechanism was once again a "firewall" type of arrangement.

But that all changed roughly two years ago. The USA began to view ESA's cooperations with China (on not just HSF) in a much more negative light. There is no doubt in my mind that a combination of factors have caused this to happen: China's actions in the South China sea, as well as China's ill-received actions in the COVID pandemic, combined with an ever increasing anti-China sentiment in the USA since the Wolf amendment became law. Heck, even the NASA administrator has begun to openly dump all sorts of (largely unfounded) allegations on China. Remember the b*llshit Nelson spouted about "China denying the USA access to the Moon"? I won't even start about the hypocritical US criticism on China over reentering CZ-5B core stages.

Anyway, it resulted in the USA pressuring specific ESA member states, where previously such pressure was mostly non-existent. And as usual in the unequal relationship between ESA and NASA, ESA pulled the shortest straw. Totally unsurprising, because ESA has so much more to lose from a worsening relationship with NASA, than NASA has to lose. USA/NASA will always come out on top. They know it, which is why they will blatantly and shamelessly use political pressure to steer ESA on whatever course that best suits American interests.
« Last Edit: 01/30/2023 09:10 am by woods170 »

Offline hfakos

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #15 on: 01/27/2023 10:16 am »
As a European tax payer, I wonder why I should finance an ‘independent European’ space program whose red lines are drawn in Washington.

The only way to change the unequal, more like subordinate, relationship between ESA and NASA is to increase ESA’s budget to at least that of NASA and pursue a sovereign and actually independent policy with ambitious goals and mutually beneficial cooperation with whomever we deem fit. Forever remaining a NASA subcontractor ain’t it.

Europe currently is a playing field, not a player.

Offline eeergo

Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #16 on: 01/27/2023 11:31 am »
Pressure appears to have been applied in relation to European participation in Artemis, and in particular regarding Gateway. Nice way of moving the "contractual conditions" once the project is already ongoing and the contracting party pulling out would lead to major impacts.

Perhaps even more shameful than the pressure itself, is the way ESA is bowing as low as its creaky back will go, while scrambling to bury the issue under the rug, going as far as Aschbacher contradicting himself publicly to reply to Twitter rumors... Reminds me of the worst Roscosmos practices whenever there is an unpalatable event, basing their actions on a twisted concept of "honor" rather than transparency.

https://twitter.com/AschbacherJosef/status/1618881419035672577

On the other hand, this pretty much chisels Gateway in stone.


Personal opinion: space exploration and exploitation should be a global, international venture "for the benefit of Mankind", where differences are put aside to discover, thrive and cooperate. Instead, centrifugal nationalisms are being erected in the field too, seemingly urgently now and at ever increasing pace, especially in Europe (to its detriment), not bothering to even put up proper rationales behind these decisions. This mirrors similar attempts in scientific research and academic institutions, where fortunately more pushback is being received. Still, Europe -and its values- is suddenly being cornered into an even more irrelevant position due to this, reversing a positive apparent trend in the last few years. The issue is not so much that it is happening in the first place, as it's natural for different interest blocs to push in the direction that most suits them: it is rather having some EU leadership enthusiastically "applauding with their ears" that this is taking place.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2023 11:39 am by eeergo »
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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #17 on: 01/28/2023 02:41 am »
It seems to me that NASA's position in regard to ESA is not a very strong one. Consider the following sequence of events.

1) ESA continues HSF cooperation with China.
2) NASA cancels ESA participation in the ISS and the Artemis program.
3) ESA cancels provision of the European Service Module and Gateway habitat to NASA.
4) NASA cancels SLS and Orion with SpaceX providing crewed Lunar access using Dragon 2 and Gateway habitat using Starship.
5) ESA increases collaboration with China in their space station and Lunar programs.

The big winner here is SpaceX, with NASA losing a key partner and Boeing (SLS), Lockheed Martin (Orion) and Northrop Grumman (RSRMV) losing big contracts. ESA doesn't lose anything since they still have crewed LEO and Lunar access via China.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 02:45 am by Steven Pietrobon »
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Offline su27k

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #18 on: 01/28/2023 02:43 am »
And there is your problem: ESA working with China on HSF never was a problem to the USA (until 2 years ago), as far as ESA's presence in ISS and Artemis is concerned.

<snip>

But that all changed roughly two years ago. The USA began to view ESA's cooperations with China (on not just HSF) in a much more negative light. There is no doubt in my mind that a combination of factors have caused this to happen: China's actions in the South China sea, as well as China's ill-received actions in the COVID pandemic

There're many more reasons I can list, and this has been brewing for longer than 2 years. But it looks like we agree that things have changed in the past few years, in large part due to actions of China, then it shouldn't be surprising that US and ESA's stand wrt cooperation with China changes accordingly. That's just a totally normal and warranted reaction to Chinese aggression, no different from the sanctions leveled at Russia after their invasion, so I fail to see how any of these is controversial.



Quote
Anyway, it resulted in the USA pressuring ESA, where previously such pressure was mostly non-existent. And as usual in the unequal relationship between ESA and NASA, ESA pulled the shortest straw. Totally unsurprising, because ESA has so much more to lose from a worsening relationship with NASA, than NASA has to lose. USA/NASA will always come out on top. They know it, which is why they will blatantly and shamelessly use political pressure to steer ESA on whatever course that best suits American interests.

The point is US interests and Europe's interests are aligned in this case, if you don't like US pushing Europe around, you're going to like it much much less if China rules the world.

Also it looks like ESA's Director General has officially denied there's any pressure from the US, so I guess that's end of this rumor...
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 02:45 am by su27k »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: ESA policy towards China
« Reply #19 on: 01/28/2023 04:04 am »
Moderator:
This is a space policy thread, therefore the move to Space Policy Discussion.

I also edited some individual post titles to match the current thread title.  (The thread started as a splinter discussion in the Tiangong thread.)
« Last Edit: 01/28/2023 04:07 am by zubenelgenubi »
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