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Russia Says It Won't Give China Space Technology

That's Strike Two For China's Space Program

It seems the whole world is stingy with China when it comes to sensitive space technology. Just a few months after a polite refusal from NASA administrator Michael Griffin to share NASA technology with China, Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency, says don't ask Russia either.

China's budding space program -- the official governmental agency is the China National Space Administration (CNSA) -- has been around a number of years, but technologically it remains in its infancy. The country just launched its first manned missions in 2003 with technology purchased from Russia.

"The Chinese are still some 30 years behind us, but their space program has been developing very fast," Perminov said at a news conference. "They are quickly catching up with us."

Much like the US, Russia has agreed in principal to cooperate with CNSA on some space projects, including China's planned robotic mission to the moon, but will maintain the former Soviet country's restrictions on sharing technology.

"We aren't transferring any technologies to China now," Perminov said. "This issue has been under special control of the government."

China's immense population and relative poverty (based on Gross Domestic Product) has limited expenditures on programs not directly related to building infrastructure or what it saw as national security. In fact, China was (and remains) one of the top customers for Russia's weapons manufacturers. It buys jets, missiles, submarines and other naval vessels.

Now, an exploding economy is allowing China to expand spending on its space program in recent years. So much so, according to the Associated Press, Russia's politicians now believe China's space program is better funded than Russia's.

This has fueled fears of competition from its former ally in theory, if not in fact. The former soviet Russia's relationship with communist China had historically stopped at cooperation in thwarting US interests -- the two countries had always remained distrustful of each other.

Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, the pair have developed a strategic partnership in adhering to what they call a "multipolar world," referring to their pledge in opposition to a perceived US world domination -- a sort of the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend mindset.

Apparently, though, that kind of alliance isn't the sort which would allow Russia to overcome an innate distrust of its old communist rival.

FMI: www.rocosmos.ru, www.cnsa.gov.cn

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