Show an ad over header. AMP

China looks to dominate commercial space industry amid global race for tech supremacy

China’s commercial space ambitions stretch far beyond the industry’s current domestic focus, with plans to use private space capabilities to help bring Chinese influence to the world.

Why it matters: Space is a cornerstone of the global race for tech supremacy, and China wants to dominate from both a governmental and commercial standpoint.


  • China's future in space could be, in part, defined by private companies that help to wield the country's soft power and influence on Earth.

The big picture: SpaceX and other providers have made launches affordable for some nations and companies, but space remains out of reach for others.

  • Chinese launch companies and manufacturers see that gap in access as an opportunity.
  • "Space, as the Chinese like to phrase it, contributes to all aspects of comprehensive national power ... so absolutely commercial space if it's done by the Chinese has several advantages," Dean Cheng, a space analyst focusing on China at the Heritage Foundation, told Axios.

Where it stands: At the moment, the Chinese space industry is mostly focused on working to get a foothold regionally and provincially before potential global expansion, experts say.

  • "There is a sense that there's more entrepreneurship and innovation that could come from the private sector," Bhavya Lal, of the Institute for Defense Analyses, told Axios.
  • "Many in policy circles believe that the Chinese need to develop this commercial space sector because there isn't as much innovation in state-owned enterprises."
  • In December, the space industry in China established the China Commercial Space Alliance to help advocate for new policy, research and regulation, and to help foster international collaboration among nations involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Between the lines: According to a 2019 report, there are about 80 commercial space companies in China.

  • The industry may be due for a shakeout in the coming years, with about 20 launch providers like LandSpace, LinkSpace and others competing in similar markets, according to the report.
  • Lal, one of the authors of that report, expects that culling could occur within the next 5–10 years.
  • "I think that maybe we are at a stage that the Chinese government is just letting these companies fight it out," Lal said, adding that once the consolidation occurs, the Chinese government may then try to find new ways to exert influence and support those that rise to the top.
  • Rocket launches were delayed from earlier this year due to orders limiting the spread of COVID-19, potentially straining the growing industry.

Background: Chinese companies have been able to move faster after learning from U.S. successes in commercial space.

  • SpaceX's first successful orbital launch occurred about six years after its founding; the Chinese launch company iSpace performed its first successful orbital launch three years after it started.

The bottom line: China is already using its state-owned enterprises to peddle influence around the world when it comes to space, but in the future, private space companies could add a new dimension to that power.

Facebook auditors say it's failing on civil rights

The findings from a new civil rights audit commissioned and released by Facebook show that the tech giant repeatedly failed to address issues of hatred, bigotry and manipulation on its platform.

Why it matters: The report comes as Facebook confronts a growing advertiser boycott and criticism for prioritizing freedom of speech over limiting misinformation and protecting users targeted by hate speech.

Keep reading... Show less

Sports in the coronavirus era might need an asterisk

American sports leagues are back, and COVID-permitting, we're finally entering the period of uninterrupted sports bliss we've been anticipating for months.

The question: Given the unusual circumstances, it's worth considering how each season will be remembered years from now. So we pose the question: Do sports in 2020 need an asterisk?

Keep reading... Show less

What China's uneven economic recovery means for the U.S.

Adapted from Institute of International Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

China and much of Southeast Asia look to be bouncing back strongly from the coronavirus pandemic as stock markets and much of the country's economic data are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

What's happening: "Our tracking points to a clear V-shaped recovery in China," economists at the Institute of International Finance said in a note to clients Tuesday, predicting the country's second-quarter growth will rise above 2% after its worst quarter on record in Q1.

Keep reading... Show less

Chief Justice John Roberts was hospitalized in June after fall

Chief Justice John Roberts was hospitalized overnight after a fall on June 21, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Post on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Speculation regarding justices' health — given their lifetime appointments — always runs rampant, and this incident may have not been made public if the Post hadn't "received a tip."

Keep reading... Show less

Congress vs. tech's gang of four

The CEOs of tech's four leading giants will defend their industry's growing concentration of power from critics on both right and left who view them as monopolists when they testify, most likely virtually, before Congress on July 27.

Why it matters: The joint appearance by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Google's Sundar Pichai will mark a historic collision between the leaders of an industry that has changed the world and political leaders who believe those changes have harmed democracy and individual rights.

Keep reading... Show less

As pandemic rages, Trump left without news to rally around

Data: Newswhip; Graphic: Axios Visuals — Note: Hover over the graphic on desktop to see weekly articles and interactions for candidates and issues.

The three topics generating the most intense interest online are the coronavirus, racial injustice and foreign policy, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios — and all are issues that are working against President Trump right now.

Why it matters: Storylines in Trump's populist sweet spot that carried the news cycle for much of his presidency — immigration, trade, a strong economy — have fallen away during the pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

Coronavirus deaths rising in hotspots like Arizona, Florida and Texas

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: The U.S. daily count had an anomalous spike on June 25 due to New Jersey recording a large number of probable deaths; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus deaths are ticking up in the new hotspots of Florida, Texas and Arizona, even as they continue to trend down nationally.

Why it matters: As infections soar, deaths will inevitably follow. And infections are soaring.

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: Facebook ad boycott organizers speak out on today's meeting with Zuckerberg

Facebook is in the midst of the largest ad boycott in its history, with nearly 1,000 brands having stopped paid advertising in July because they feel Facebook hasn't done enough to remove hate speech from its namesake app and Instagram.

Axios Re:Cap spoke with the boycott's four main organizers, who met on Tuesday with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook executives, to learn why they organized the boycott, what they took from the meeting, and what comes next.

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories