Space: Rohrabacher amendment blocks Obama on space cooperation with China, July 27, 2011

The House Foreign Affairs Committee last week adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2012 authorization bill that would block all space cooperation with China. The amendment, drafted by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is a sense of the Congress that no space activities should be conducted with China.

"It is the sense of Congress that any effort to expand international cooperation in space, such as adding new partners to the International Space Station, conducting operations beyond low Earth orbit, exploring the Moon and Mars, launching deep space probes, and developing related technology and capabilities should not include participation by entities owned, controlled, chartered by, or located within the People’s Republic of China," the amendment said.

The measure is a blow to Obama administration efforts to try and conduct space cooperation with China, despite earlier legislation banning such cooperation.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies, told the Washington Times last week that the administration is violating a law passed in April that restricts technology-sharing with China following attempts by Chinese hackers to steal government secrets.

"They can’t just flout the law," Wolf said. "We see what China’s doing."

Wolf in response has cut funds in the Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2012 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) by 55 percent, from $6.6 million to $3 million.

The April legislation stated that no NASA or OSTP funds can be used "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company."

The legislation report said the cutoff was the result of the "unabated threat posed to United States interest by China." It noted that Chinese attempts to obtain information from government agencies and private corporations had made Chinese firms "unsuitable partners for American space and science initiatives."

The report said: "OSTP has chosen to disregard a strong and unambiguous legislative prohibition on bilateral engagement with China or Chinese-owned companies. OSTP’s behavior demonstrates a lack of respect for the policy and oversight roles of the Congress."


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