Brussels, 07 Apr 2004
Meeting in Beijing on 7 April 2004, European and Chinese representatives expressed their willingness to further strengthen co-operative space activities. The 'High-level China-EU Workshop on Space Co-operation' kicked off a six-day mission to China by Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.
The workshop brought Europeans and Chinese together to exchange views on the current state of co-operation in the space sector and on areas that can support further collaboration, including opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises. In attendance were representatives of Chinese government administrations, research institutes and leading industrial players, as well as a delegation of high-level European space representatives.
Addressing the workshop, Busquin said: "Successful Euro-Chinese collaborations in space have already proved to be 'win-win'; situations, and more must be done to develop our ties."
Speaking about the Chinese White Paper on Space, he added: "The aims of this space policy, as described in your November 2000 White Paper, are largely in accordance with our own policy orientations in Europe – space applications that will have a positive impact on our citizens' welfare, meeting their demands, and supporting our economies; space exploration, like the European AURORA programme, that stimulates technological development and scientific knowledge. This can be the cement of our future partnership."
Ma Songde, China's vice-minister of science and technology, and Sun Laiyan, vice-administrator of China's National Space Administration, added their voices to the call for increased co-operation, as did the European Space Agency's Director of Science David Southwood.
New steering group proposed
The main concrete outcome of the workshop was an agreement to establish a 'High-Level Steering Group on China-EU Space Co-operation'. Its mission will be to reinforce the dialogue between the European Union and the People's Republic of China, and support the development of long-term perspectives for co-operation in space.
The group will help identify areas of mutual interest and promote concrete joint actions, in compliance with the objectives of the White Paper on European Space Policy and the Chinese White Paper on Space. Areas for further co-operation already identified include:
- Satellite radionavigation (GALILEO)
- Earth Observation (GMES)
- Commercial application of space technologies and development of ground-based services, i.e. in satellite telecommunications
- Space exploration
- Training and mobility of scientists
The Steering Group will include representatives of government administrations, agencies and manufacturers, as well as operators and service providers. It will also deliver an annual report with recommendations to participating organisations and the EU-China Joint Ministerial Committee.
Moving forward on research co-operation
The High-level China-EU Workshop on Space Co-operation is only the latest in a series of moves aimed at strengthening co-operative research links between the EU and China. Under a September 2003 agreement, China can now participate in the highly strategic GALILEO Programme, a move welcomed by European and Chinese leaders at the EU-China Summit the following month.
The two sides have also expressed satisfaction with progress in Euro-Chinese scientific and technological co-operation, including Sino participation in the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). Under FP6, Chinese research partners can take part, for the first time, in EU-funded projects in all areas of scientific research.
"There is no question that space is a dream shared by everyone around the world... Our pledge as decision-makers must be that space shall remain a sphere of peaceful co-operation, for the benefit of all, as our Sino-European relations have already demonstrated," Commissioner Busquin concluded, "It is time for us to take this co-operation further. I remain confident that we will."