China official says film 'The Martian' shows Americans want space cooperation

Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:29am EDT
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By Michael Martina

BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior Chinese space official said the Hollywood blockbuster "The Martian" is proof that Americans want to see the United States and China cooperate in space, but lamented Washington's ban on collaboration between the two countries.

Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

China insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.

Apart from its civilian ambitions, Beijing has tested anti-satellite missiles, and the U.S. Congress has banned NASA from engaging in cooperation with its Chinese counterpart due to security concerns.

Xu Dazhe, the chief of the China National Space Administration, promised China's space plans would become "increasingly transparent".

"When I saw the U.S. film 'The Martian', which envisages China-U.S. cooperation on a Mars rescue mission under emergency circumstances, it shows that our U.S. counterparts very much hope to cooperate with us," Xu told reporters at a briefing.

"However, it's very regrettable that, for reasons everyone is aware of, there are currently some impediments to cooperation," Xu said.

China's space program would continue to serve national security and economic interests, in what Beijing calls a "military-civil" development strategy, Xu said, but added that such efforts would be used in support of "world peace".   Continued...

Xu Dazhe (C), head of China National Space Administration attends a news conference in Beijing, China, April 22, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS ATTENTION.