NASA's China exclusion policy short-sighted

By Liu Zhun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-8 23:53:01

When Charles Bolden, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), led a small delegation to China in 2010, he said both countries would have further dialogue and cooperation in the research of outer space. But three years later when Chinese scientists specializing in exoplanet research were told they would be banned by NASA from attending a conference held by the agency, Bolden's outlook seemed still far out of reach.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the conference is scheduled to take place in NASA's Ames research center in California this November. The attendees will include prominent astronomers from both the US and other international research teams in the field of exoplanet hunting. The conference is the priority in the academic calendar of many related scientists but Chinese nationals are put on the blacklist for this purely science-oriented meeting.

It seems that NASA's decision was made on the basis of a law passed earlier this year by the US Congress. The Chinese exclusion policy of NASA forbids the agency from cooperating with the Chinese State or Chinese companies. Chinese citizens are even prohibited from visiting NASA facilities. There was one simple reason why the strict policy was made - national security.

The law can be regarded as the result of the incessant paranoia held by the US government of the so-called espionage and technology-stealing activities of China.

When Chinese scientists became unwelcome in NASA, the agency is facing a backlash from many big names in exoplanet research, who said that they would boycott and withdraw their teams from the conference in protest. Geoff Marcy, a pioneering astronomer from the University of California at Berkeley, wrote to the organizers, saying he cannot "attend a meeting that discriminates in this way," and the conference is "about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications."

There are also no secrets for any alleged Chinese spies to pilfer during the conference. All information about alien planets during the meeting has long been freely available to anyone, including Chinese astronomers.

The US is fabricating and exaggerating China's threat, and in doing so is narrowing its horizon in many spheres that need cooperation, including outer space. As a pioneer that has always used the power of inclusiveness and open-mindedness as its source of energy, the US is imprisoning itself in the cell of a more isolated ideology.

As the leading countries in the exploration of aerospace, both China and the US need each other. Irrational suspicions and isolations will block their sight in outer space, leading to a lose-lose outcome for both of them.

Posted in: Observer

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