Home > Asia-Pacific, Europe, Politics > E.U.-China Partnership on the Galileo Satellite System: Competing with the U.S. in Space

E.U.-China Partnership on the Galileo Satellite System: Competing with the U.S. in Space

José Carlos Matias writes in Japan Focus:

When the European Union and China agreed to cooperate to develop the E.U. Galileo Satellite System in 2003, the United States reacted with strong skepticism since Washington was against the sharing of sensitive dual-use technology (with civilian and military applications) with China. In the past, the United States had tried unsuccessfully to impede the European Union’s ability to set up Galileo, which is an alternative to the U.S.-established Global Positioning System (G.P.S.). At the time, U.S. analysts questioned why Brussels was spending money (3.6 billion euros) to duplicate an existing system that was available “for free,” and why it was eager to accept Chinese participation in the program.

Four years later, the E.U.-China “maturing partnership” has evolved toward a more complex network of common and contradictory interests, as the transatlantic links have slowly recovered since the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. Moreover, China has begun to develop its own Global Navigation Satellite System (G.N.S.S.) — the Beidou-2. At the same time, the Galileo deployment has suffered a crisis due to disagreements among the industries that were awarded the concession to build and deploy the first four satellites of the Galileo system. Public funding may save Galileo, but the best case scenario for a successful program is for the actors involved to pursue a more realistic approach. In addition to China’s announcement of upgrading Beidou to mass market applications, Russia has also decided to complete its own G.N.S.S., called Glonass.

In the face of these developments, what will be the impact of developing the Chinese G.N.S.S. for E.U.-China cooperation and to the commercial feasibility of Galileo?

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Categories: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Politics
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