I have two reactions to China’s membership in the manned space club. My first is pleasure. I’m glad there are other countries in the world who are going out there, because we’re sure falling behind. For whatever reason, the United States government isn’t maintaining a serious space exploration effort. That’s one egg I don’t want in a single bucket.
In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather China bring the resources of space back to Earth than nobody. I believe that once we start harvesting the asteroid belt, the value will be so clear that you’ll see an explosion of effort in that direction. But someone’s gotta get there first to make the point, whether it’s China or India or a private American company. I’d be a little worried if it turns out to be China, but in the long term it won’t matter as long as someone does it.
My other reaction, my immediate reaction, is concern. China’s stepping up, and if China gains control of Earth orbit, we’re back to the days of mutually assured destruction. Possibly we never left them, but there was some degree of hope. Mind you, I’m not sure the “mutual” refers to us and China; more likely we’re talking about China and India. And what does Pakistan do if India goes to space? Pakistan can’t buy a space program the way it bought nuclear missiles.
Destablization is inevitable. It’s a fool’s game, pretending that two antagonistic countries with a disputed border can remain at peace for a century or more. We’ve got three there, with India and China and Pakistan, and we had to expect a tipped balance at some point. So I’m not surprised; I’m just concerned.