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What’s New: A new report on China, Russia, space and great power competition by the Center for Naval Analysis working for the Air Force’s Air University. No surprise, Russia and China have traded places in their lead-follow relationship for space over the last decade or so.

Why It’s Important:

  • The world and people’s lives are shaped by great power competition. Look at Ukraine as an example.
  • Both Russia and China want to counter the US and Europe in just about everything.
  • Space is important. China has shown very advanced capabilities to operate in space. Russia has shown it is willing to be reckless in space to reinforce its status as a world power.

What Else to Know:

  • China and Russia don’t rely on space as much as the US does. Especially for PNT.
    • China has the most comprehensive architecture of PNT systems in the world.
    • This places the U.S. at huge strategic, operational, and tactical disadvantages.
  • China and Russia have had a BeiDou/ GLONASS cooperation agreement for years. It is regularly updated. At one point there was talk of merging them into one mega-constellation.
  • Use of BeiDou by China as an instrument of soft power was the subject of an interesting Harvard paper published in February.


China-Russia Space Cooperation: The Strategic, Military, Diplomatic, and Economic Implications of a Growing Relationship

Executive Summary

Over the past two decades, the relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia has transitioned from what some described as a relationship of convenience to what both countries now call a “comprehensive strategic partnership.” The growing strategic partnership between China and Russia is reflected in a burgeoning China-Russia space relationship. Once the dominant power in the space relationship, Russia now appears to be taking a secondary role. China’s growing expertise in space, matched with the financial capabilities to sustain a large and growing space enterprise, signals not only China’s rise as a major space power but also the geopolitical transition taking place between China, Russia, and the United States.

Key findings

China-Russia space relations are indicative of a broader effort to build mutual trust, further Chinese and Russian influence and counter Western political and economic pressure, facilitate multipolarization, and achieve common national security goals.