Resetting US-China space cooperation

In November NASA administration Charles Bolden suggested any US-China space cooperation would proceed at a slow pace after his visit to China in October. That meeting, set up after a meeting of Presidents Hu and Obama in China in 2009, was also to feature a visit to the US by "the appropriate Chinese counterpart" to Bolden in 2010. That visit didn't come, though, as Aviation Week suggested that Bolden was trying not to "alienate" Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a leading critic of China and the new chairman of the appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA. In a joint statement yesterday during Hu's visit to Washington, the issue of space again appeared, with a new offer by the US for hosting a Chinese space meeting: The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space. The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010. The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit. The statement this time refers to a "Chinese delegation" instead of the "appropriate Chinese counterpart" to the NASA administrator, perhaps getting around one issue Chinese space experts like Dean Cheng have observed: China has apparently never designated who the counterpart to the NASA administrator is in the Chinese space program.

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