During the past couple of weeks, China has been intensively engaging in bilateral talks on space and nuclear-related issues, meeting representatives of Ukraine, Argentina since 12 November.
This week Wednesday, China and Argentina met and discussed plans to strengthen bilateral ties,
with specific focus on science & technology development. The meeting was between Argentina’s ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, and Zhang Kejian, CNSA Director and Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology. The two agreed to promote negotiations of a “2021-2025 Space Cooperation Plan”, encompassing space science, deep space exploration, and earth observation.
Argentina has become an important partner for China’s space ambitions in recent years across these different areas. In space science and deep space exploration, China recently built the Espacio Lejano Estacion
in Neuquén Province of Argentina as part of its Deep Space Exploration Network. On the commercial side of things, Satellite Herd, a Chinese commercial TT&C company, recently opened a ground station in Argentina
. Zhang also offered during the meeting the prospect of scholarships for Argentinian students in areas of space, nuclear energy, and defense industry areas, which will be important for Argentina given that the country has been trying to develop and maintain domestic space capabilities.
In what was indeed a very busy week for Zhang Kejian, the very next day, CNSA and the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU) held virtual talks
, apparently centered on the 2021-2025 “Program of Ukraine - China Cooperation in Space”. This comes about 1 year after China and Ukraine signed a long-term cooperation agreement
in space encompassing 69 projects worth >US$70M over the period of 2021-2025.
The two sides have historically cooperated in propulsion-related areas (among other things), with Ukraine home to a lot of rocket science brain power. Sources inside of China suggested that at least one Chinese commercial launch company has been in talks with the Ukrainians about collaboration and technology transfer. Early last year, the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister for EU and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Dmytro Kuleba,
stated that Ukraine needed to decrease trade barriers with China and enhance cooperation in the field of space.
These two meetings come about 3 weeks after a meeting between Zhang Kejian and Italian Ambassador to China, Luca Ferrari
, which took place on 12 November
in Beijing and during which both parties discussed cooperation in the space and nuclear fields.
Overall, this series of meetings confirms that China (and other countries) see the space, nuclear, and defense realms as critical. As China continues to develop its own capabilities in these fields, it may become a more attractive international partner, in particular for countries looking to bolster or maintain their own industries.