China’s communist regime is engaged in a campaign to illicitly co-opt American space technologies, according to NASA’s highest-ranking official, who said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was adept at stealing the United States’ most vital technological secrets.

“Yeah, they’re pretty good at stealing,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson during a May 17 House Appropriations Committee Hearing. “And I think that’s incumbent upon us to take cybersecurity very, very seriously.”

The comments were made in response to a line of questioning by ranking committee member Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), who noted the “jarring similarities” between space vehicles being developed between private American companies and state-run Chinese organizations.

“We simply cannot ignore the threat from China and our adversaries who are making technological, manufacturing, and exploration advancements on a daily basis,” Aderholt said.

The United States, Aderholt added, would need a clear vision that could last across administrations to dictate its space policy more effectively as a matter of national defense.

“For far too long, we have allowed China and other adversaries to challenge our space dominance and their ambitions only continue to grow,” Aderholt said.

The U.S. government has advised the private sector that China is engaged in a committed effort to illicitly acquire critical and emerging technologies in every sector of the American economy, and particularly those vital to its military modernization efforts.

The technologies required for achieving political dominance in space, which Aderholt referred to as the “high ground,” have become something of a precious commodity in that regard.

For his own part, Nelson said that he believed the United States and Russia were entering a new space race that would define the strategic and military situation the world over for decades to come.

“I believe we are in, and I have said this publicly before, I think we’re in a space race with China,” Nelson said.

“I think we are not unlike the space race we were in with the Soviet Union. I think we’re going to have that space race with the Chinese government in the future.”

Experts have long warned that the CCP’s space program is a military threat to Western powers. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall went so far as to say that the United States would need to develop offensive space weapons in order to deter the threat.

The CCP has made no secret of its ambitions for space. One official white paper detailed a plan for the regime to become the world’s leading “space power.” Meanwhile, the regime led the world in number of space launches in 2021, and has ambitions to replicate that feat in 2022.

“China in the last few years, they’ve done some impressive stuff,” Nelson said. “They’re only the second nation to be with a rover on the surface of Mars. A rover that works. They now have a space station and it’s got impressive technology. They have declared that they are going to the moon.”


Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master’s in military history from Norwich University.

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