American and Chinese Concepts of Utilizing Space Assets for Solving Military and Political Issues

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-12-67-76

E. Drozhashchikh (,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, 1, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119234, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article draws upon the assumption that the U.S.–China struggle for global leadership is inevitable. At present, we witness the surge of interest towards the “active phase” of trade wars flaring since President Trump’s taking office. But what is requiring to shed light on is whether the bilateral antagonism may switch to the outer space with 95% of space technologies possessed by the states being dual. Proceeding from this logic, the author examines the extent of reciprocal preparedness towards turning space into a theater of war. The author claims that the space factor has been taken into account by the U.S. military strategists since the last decade of the 20th century, though the more vivid impetus was given by the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization report published in 2001 which revealed insufficient readiness of military and intelligence services to use space for heading off perspective threats. As a result, stepping from pledges to reject any limitations on the fundamental right of a country to operate in and acquire data from space including defense and intelligence-related activities, the United States then came to proclamation of more precise guidelines on how to protect national interests depriving the adversary of potential advantages in space. In due course the issues of “interoperability” of national security systems and their “resilience” came to the fore contributing to better understanding of an impact the cross-domain solutions may have for preventing, countering and sustaining aggression. All in all, space domain mission assurance has become an inalienable part of the U.S. space policy since 2012 already. Amidst the Third Offset Strategy of the United States and Donald Trump’s aspirations for strengthening the American deterrence and warfighting options in space, it is expected that soon we will witness correspondent organizational and planning changes making outer space an area of military operational maneuver. Unlike the U.S., China does not have a space doctrine to contain prescriptions on the military use of space. White papers on space activities are majorly intended to build up the frames of providing national security in a peaceful manner. Meanwhile, the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army publishes the guiding thoughts defining the Chinese vision of the future military affairs. It states the combination of soft- and hard-kill techniques to coerce the adversary and achieve space superiority, promotes joint operations implying integration of space operations into the military planning system to enable defensive and offensive activities, whether it be space deterrence or space blockade. In the whole, space is characterized as a “commanding height” applicable in asymmetric warfare and seizing the initiative. At the same time, establishment of Strategic Support Forces responsible inter alia for space activities confirms China’s intention to grant this domain a more active role in providing national security. The author comes to a conclusion that having open and concealed hints at each other in strategic, documents, and possessing certain similarities in the vision of the future space activities, both the U.S. and China are strategically prepared to shifting disputes to the space arena.

Keywords: America, China, space strategy, military space politics


1. Murasheva G.F. Est’ li al’ternativa status-kvo v territorial’nom spore v Yuzhno-Kitaiskom more? [Is There Alternative to Status-Quo in the Territorial South China Sea Dispute?] Yugo-Vostochnaya Aziya: aktual’nye problemy razvitiya, 2013, no. 20, pp. 5-15.

2. Kokoshin A.A., Panov A.N. Makrostrukturnye izmeneniya v sisteme mirovoi politiki do 2030 goda [Macrostructural Changes in the World Politics System by 2030]. Moscow, Krasand, 2014. 336 p.

3. Leksyutina Y.V. ATR kak avanstsena sopernichestva Kitaya i SShA v XXI veke [Asia-Pacific Region as a Foreground for China-U.S. Rivalry in the 21st Century]. Asia and Africa Today, 2014, no. 7, pp. 2-10.

4. UCS Satellite Database: In-Depth Details on the 1,886 Satellites Currently Orbiting Earth (2018). Union of Concerned Scientists. Available at: (accessed 15.08.2018).

5. China First Time Caught up with U.S. in Number of Space Launches per Year, Russia – on the Third Place. RNS, 31.12.2016. (In Russ.) Available at:‑2016-12-31 (accessed 05.08.2018).

6. Moltz J. C. Asia’s Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries and International Risks. New York, Columbia University Press, 2012. 288 p.

7. David L. China’s Space Station Will Be Open to Science from All UN Nations., 29.05.2018. Available at: (accessed 29.03.2018).

8. Dellios R. China’s Space Program: a Strategic and Political Analysis. Culture Mandala: the Bulletin of the Centre for East West Cultural and Economic Studies, 2005, vol. 7, iss. 1, article 1, pp. 1-15.

9. Tellis A. Does China Threaten the United States in Space? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. January 28, 2014. Available at: (accessed 05.09.2018).

10. 2016 Annual Report to Congress. U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission. November 16, 2016. Available at: (accessed 25.08.2018).

11. Bulanov K. Tramp pogovoril s prezidentom Taivanya vopreki pozitsii Kitaya [Trump Talked to the President of Taiwan Despite China’s Position]. RBC, 03.12.2016. Available at: (accessed 23.08.2018).

12. Kashin V.B. Yuzhno-Kitaiskoe more – Gaagskii sud i voennaya napryazhennost’ [South China Sea – the Hague Tribunal and Military Tension]. Russian International Affairs Council. 14.07.2016. Available at: (accessed 25.03.2018).

13. Walker A. Are We on the Brink of a US-China Trade War? BBC, 13.04.2018. Available at:‑43715084 (accessed 13.04.2018).

14. Roncevert G.A. The US–China Trade War. The Diplomat, 27.05.2018. Available at: (accessed 27.05.2018).

15. Martel W., Yoshinara T. Averting a Sino-U. S. Space Race. The Washington Quarterly, 2003, no. 26:4, pp. 19-35.

16. National Security Decision Directive Number 42. National Space Policy. The White House. Washington. July 4, 1982. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

17. A National Security Strategy of Enlargement and Engagement. The White House. July 1994. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

18. Section-by-Section Comparison of 1996 and 2000 National Space Policy Documents. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

19. Kay J. Bush Administration Renews US Drive to Militarize Space. World Socialist Web Site. 25.07.2001. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

20. U.S. National Space Policy. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

21. David L. New Bush Space Policy Unveiled, Stresses U. S. Freedom of Action., 07.10.2006. Available at: (accessed 20.05.2018).

22. Hecht J. US Takes Unilateral Stance in New Space Policy. New Scientist, 10.10.2006. Available at: (accessed 20.05.2018).

23. US Adopts Tough New Space Policy. BBC, 18.10.2006. Available at: (accessed 20.05.2018).

24. Bush erklart sich zum Herrscher des Universums. Der Spiegel, 18.10.2006. Available at:‑443157.html (accessed 20.05.2018).

25. National Space Policy of the United States of America. NASA. June 2010. Available at: (accessed 29.05.2018).

26. National Security Space Strategy. Department of Defense. Washington. January 2011. Available at: (accessed 29.05.2018).

27. Fact Sheet: Resilience of Space Capabilities. Department of Defense. Washington. January 2011. Available at: (accessed 20.04.2018).

28. Department of Defense Directive Number 3100.10. Department of Defense. Washington. October 18, 2012. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

29. Space Domain Mission Assurance: a Resilience Taxonomy. A White Paper. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security. September 2015. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

30. Space Operations. Joint Publication 3–14. 29 May 2013. Available at: (accessed 20.05.2018).

31. Kokoshin A.A., Bartenev V.I., Veselov V.A. O novykh prioritetakh voenno-tekhnicheskoi politiki SShA [On New Priorities of the U. S. Military-Technical Policy]. Moscow, Lenand, 2016. 160 p.

32. An Examination of the U. S. National Security Space Strategy. Secure World Foundation. 31.05.2016. Available at: (accessed 02.06.2018).

33. Wilkie C. Trump Floats the Idea of Creating a ‘Space Force’ to Fight Wars in Space. CNBC, 13.03.2018. Available at: (accessed 15.03.2018).

34. Final Report on Organizational and Management Structure for the National Security Space Components of the Department of Defense. Department of Defense. Washington. August 2018. Available at: (accessed 10.08.2018).

35. President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy. The White House. March 23, 2018. Available at: (accessed 25.05.2018).

36. President Donald J. Trump Is Building the United States Space Force for a 21st Century Military. The White House. August 9, 2018. Available at:‑21st-century-military/ (accessed 09.08.2018).

37. National Military Strategy, 2015. July 1, 2015. National Security Strategy Archive. Available at:‑2015/ (accessed 29.05.2018).

38. China’s Space Activities. Available at: (accessed 13.03.2018).

39. China’s Space Activities in 2006. Central People’s Government. The People’s Republic of China. October 2006. Available at: (accessed 13.03.2018).

40. China’s Space Activities in 2011. December 2011. Available at: (accessed 13.03.2018).

41. Full Text of White Paper on China’s Space Activities in 2016. The State Council. The People’s Republic of China. December 2016. Available at: (accessed 13.03.2018).

42. Chang X. Military Astronautics, 2nd ed. Beijing, Defense Industries Press, 2005. 316 p.

43. Cheng D. U.S.–China ompetition in Space. Testimony before Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The Heritage Foundation. September 27, 2016. Available at: (accessed 20.01.2017).

44. The Science of Military Strategy. Research Department of Military Strategy. Military Science Press, 2013. 276 p.

45. The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces. White Paper. The State Council. The People’s Republic of China. April 2013. Available at: (accessed 15.03.2018).

46. China’s Military Strategy. White Paper. Ministry of National Defense. The People’s Republic of China. May 15, Beijing. Available at: (accessed 15.03.2018).

47. Kokoshin A. Voennaya reforma v Kitae: oboronnye, vneshnepoliticheskye I vnutripoliticheskye aspekty [Military Reform in China: Defensive Aspects and Issues of External and Internal Policy]. St. Petersburg, Izdatel’stvo Sankt-Peterburgskogo akademicheskogo universiteta, 2016. 44 p.

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Drozhashchikh E. American and Chinese Concepts of Utilizing Space Assets for Solving Military and Political Issues. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 12, pp. 67-76.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 5
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Are There Any Ways to Break Through the Korean Nuclear Impasse?
  • Contemporary U.S. Taiwan Policy: Balancing on the Edge
  • The Gulf Monarchies’ Vision of the Global Order Transformations and the Russian Place in It
  • At Post-Soviet Space
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.