China’s Land Grab Beyond the Blue Planet –“First the Moon, Then Mars” (Today’s Top Space Headline)

 
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“The universe is an ocean, the moon is the Diaoyu Islands, Mars is Huangyan Island, says Ye Peijian is a 73-year-old aerospace engineer and head of the Chinese lunar exploration program. "If we don't go there now even though we’re capable of doing so, then we will be blamed by our descendants. If others go there, then they will take over, and you won’t be able to go even if you want to. This is reason enough. It’s a move to wrest control of new lands from other nations, and to write the histories of those territories before others can.”


Xi Jinping promised that China will head to the moon. The plan is to occupy it like the South China Sea. And after that? Mars. Given its vast territorial ambitions that span global waters from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean to the Arctic, it really should come as no surprise that the Chinese Communist Party is also aiming upward, far beyond the confines of the Blue Planet.

Five years ago, continues Brendon Hong in today's Daily Beast, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised the nation that China will send a taikonaut to the moon by the 2030s. (So far, 11 have flown into space.) As with the other policies that Xi has shaped as his forthcoming legacy, there has been a strict follow-through, with the nation’s aerospace experts improving their craft at dizzying speed.

Responses like Ye’s are part explainer, part propaganda, all dog whistle. The Diaoyu Islands, as China calls them, are an uninhabited 1,700 acres that are known as Senkaku in Japan, and sovereignty over these small patches of bare rock has been a flashpoint between the two nations for decades. In the same vein, Huangyan refers to Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea that is also claimed by Taiwan and the Philippines.

By invoking the names of these contested outposts, Ye delivered a crystal-clear message that left no room for misunderstanding among a domestic audience. For Ye and the CCP, going to space isn’t just a matter of scientific achievement or national pride. It’s a move to wrest control of new lands from other nations, and to write the histories of those territories before others can.

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