By Feng Songjiang
In stark contrast to America's constant withdrawal from international treaties and its recent announcement to pull troops from Germany, the country, following its Space Defense Strategy, has continuously intensified the cooperation among the military, government, civilian and business circles in the outer space, trying hard to pull in its allies and partners to enlarge the "circle of friends" in the endeavor for space militarization.
America's accelerated pace of expanding its "circle of friends" in the space is an immediate reflection of the Trump administration’s idea of "strengthening cooperation with allies and partners" that's stressed by the National Space Strategy and National Defense Strategy, for the direct purpose of establishing Washington's space domination and superiority. Washington views space as the focus of major-country strategic competition and as a new domain of combat, thus, bringing in more allies and partners for closer cooperation has become an important tactic and path for it to quickly enhance its overall space force and achieve the strategic goal of "space domination".
At present, the US Space Command and Space Force are moving faster to merge into combined combats. By sharing space dynamics data, jointly developing subversive space technologies, co-building space military forces, and carrying out joint space warfare deductions and military operations, they are continuously intensifying the space cooperation among the military, government, civilian and business circles as well as the allies. US’ accelerated moves to form the space military alliance and build a new type of space force system is aimed to overhaul the traditional combat patterns and space governance system, to write off the rivals’ counter advantages.
This reflects America’s intention to hijack its allies and partners’ interests in the name of cooperation given its reliance on the space system and the vulnerability of its traditional space assets. By forming a so-called “space alliance”, Washington will let the allies and partners share its space security risks and costs and realize its attempt of strengthening itself, dominating the formulation of space rules and deterring the rivals.
The augmented strengths in terms of allies, partners, and discourse power will help the US establish a more resilient and damage-resistant space architecture, boost its overall leadership in the space, support it in setting pro-America space rules and agenda, and make the rivals' counter moves more costly. Such strengths will also force some allies to be more reliant on the US, which reflects the hegemonic thinking of "America first" even though it's portrayed as the so-called shared security with allies and partners, but the "friend-ship" may sink any minute once Washington smells anything in its disfavor. While the allies all have their own calculations in following America’s lead to form the space alliance, they may easily be reduced to pawns should a space conflict break out.
In sum, America's accelerated expansion of the "circle of friends" for space militarization will not only trigger a new round of arms race in the outer space, but also add to the uncertainty and instability of space security.
Space is the common asset of all mankind, and exploring the universe is the common human aspiration. Ensuring the peaceful use of space is not only in the interests of all countries, but also their common responsibility. The international community should advocate the concept of building a space community with a shared future in the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, proactively foster a new situation of benign competition and peaceful cooperation, and work together to safeguard a secure space.
(The author is from the Research Center for Space Security at the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) Space Engineering University.)