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Very often within the space advocacy community China is held up as a reason for an aggressive space policy. The fear is that China is seeking to control space in a way that will block access by other countries and that China will develop the trillion dollar economy in space.

The Space Development Network believe that these views are largely unrealistic for the following reasons:
    - China is not advancing particularly rapidly in space.
    - In-space resources are expensive to develop and are not all that valuable.
    - It would be difficult for any country, including China, to exclude other countries from accessing space resources including lunar polar resources.

China's first crewed mission was in 2003. Since that time they have had only six additional crewed missions with a total of 14 astronaut missions. By contrast, the United States has had about 58 astronaut missions in the same time period.

It is true that China sets goals in space and tends to accomplish them according to the established timeframe. But while their plans call for the establishment of a scientific research base at the lunar south pole, their timeframe would be about 2029. Considering the rate of progress of SpaceX's Starship, at that time, SpaceX may be able to deliver hundreds of passengers to the Moon each year.

it is also true that China has recently achieved some noticable accomplishments on the Moon. They have now landed two landers / rovers. Whereas the first rover didn't last very long the second one has done fine. In this respect, China can now take pride in what the Soviet Union did in 1972. But with the last lander-rover, they landed on the back side of the Moon which is a first and required them to pre-emplace a relay satellite around the Moon's L2 gravitational position. These achievements are impressive but no particular cause for concern. What matters more are the human lunar programs.

Ye Peijian is the head of the China’s Moon program. Much has been made of his statement that, “The universe is an ocean, the Moon is the Diaoyu Islands, Mars is Huangyan Island,”. Given that these "islands" are central in the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the assumption is often made that this one statement implies that China's ultimate plan is to claim the Moon and Mars as their own. This seems like quite a logical stretch when the statement could just as easily be viewed as analogy to distance.

Likewise, China has described their interest in developing space resources and are researching into space solar power. Well, any intelligent space program would want to use in situ resources in support of their space program in order to reduce the shipping costs involved. Helium-3 is present on the Moon and could be used to power fusion reactors. But the concentration is so low that one would need to process at least 67,000 tonnes of lunar regolith for every tonne of He-3. Considering the cost of doing so and the many alternatives to He-3 fusion (including solar power of all types), it is not clear this this is an economically-viable resource.

Certainly if any country could develop space solar power at a level competitive to Earth-based energy production then this could represent a huge market. But the reason that space solar power hasn't raised financing for development is that people correctly view it as a high-risk investment without certainty of being profitable. It's not yet clear that there is any there there for space solar power.

Platinum group metals are another resource that are pointed to as potentially very profitable. But there are several caveats which should be considered:
    - We don't know if such ore bodies exist since they may completely vaporize upon impact.
    - We don't know specifically where they might be (e.g. which craters).
    - The cost of extracting and transporting them could make PGMs unprofitable.
    - Flooding the market with PGMs would drive down the price.
    - Asteroids and not the Moon might be a better sources of such metals.
This would be good for asteroid mining but remove that temptation from the list of reasons to fear China's takeover of the Moon.

Besides the previously, very speculative lunar resources, there are a couple of much more accepted resources on the Moon that could lead to competition.

"Peaks of Eternal Light"
There are only a finite set of the so-called "Peaks of Eternal Light" at the lunar poles. These are areas where one can get nearly continuous sunlight and they are conveniently located near permanently shadowed craters. One could imagine a scenario whereby a country such as China could rush to set up operations at those peaks and then claim the right to exclusively use those locations.

The problem with this scenario is severalfold. Unless China is secretly developing a rushed human lunar program, they are not scheduled to be in a position to establish operations at all of the peaks at both poles before NASA and SpaceX are planning on sending crew to these same locations. Also, these peaks are not small areas / regions. Any claim to exclusive control over such large regions would not be accepted by the other nations and would be difficult for China to enforce. Exclusive control over an area on the Moon would also tend to violate the Outer Space Treaty in that it would prevent the free access to those locations by other nations. And having solar drapes and ice-harvesting telerobots a kilometer away from another countries operations cannot logically pose a threat to China's operations.

Lunar Polar Ice
Similarly, lunar polar ice is spread out across many hundreds (thousands?) of square kilometers at each lunar pole. Such a broadly-spread operations cannot be quickly developed.

The real prize for lunar development is two-fold:
    - National prestige for that country which leads the rest of the world in opening up space for human settlement.
    - Establishing the "rules of the road" for how humanity will life off Earth.

Unlike how things have gone in the past, we really are approaching a tipping point where humanity will start spreading beyond Earth. These events will prove to be as historic as any other event in Earth's history. The country that leads out in this process will not only go down in history but will imprint there values on how humans live in the future. It is the position of the Space Development Network that America and not China should lead in the spreading of humanity beyond Earth but that other countries and peoples will choose in what way that they do so. But if America sets the pattern then the future of humanity will be one of liberty.

In conclusion, we believe that the concerns about China spreading into and controlling space are largely hype. None-the-less, given the historic significance of what is about to happen, we think it prudent for America to boldly open space to humanity and not leave that role to China.

The country that first opens up space will also imprint their values on humanity's future off Earth.

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