China Bids for the High Ground Yale Center for the Study of Globalization

The world may seem a little smaller to China soon – especially as viewed from outer space. The Chinese government plans to launch a manned space capsule in the next few weeks, closing a technological gap with Russia and the US that no other country has crossed. Joan Johnson-Freese, an expert in Chinese space technology at the US Naval War College, believes that to understand the implications of the launch, four key questions need to be considered: Why are the Chinese pursuing a manned space program? How much is it costing them? Will the upcoming manned launch be successful? What will be the reaction of the American public to a successful Chinese launch? The answers to these four questions are likely to influence US technology and defense interests, as well as policy makers in Washington and around the globe. A successful launch could bring a multitude of benefits to China, similar to what the Apollo program did for American scientific advancement. But, cautions Johnson-Freese, while “Success in the heavens is spectacular