China invites all UN countries to use its future space station

China announced Monday that all member states of the United Nations (UN) will be welcome to cooperate with China to jointly utilize its future China Space Station. 

A ceremony took place in Vienna during which Shi Zhongjun, China’s Ambassador to the UN, made the announcement amid other international organizations and leaders in Vienna.

According to Shi, the cooperation between China and the other countries on the space station will be open and inclusive. 

“Firstly, the cooperation will be open to all countries, regardless of their capabilities in outer space exploration,” he said. “Secondly, it will be very inclusive, embracing governments, international organizations, private entities and research institutes and it will be carried out through the use of various means.”

A model of a space station from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is displayed at China Beijing International High-tech Expo in Beijing, China June 8, 2017. China plans to have a new space station in operation by 2022. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

The space station, which is expected to go in operation by 2022, will be the world’s first space station that is developed by a developing country and open for cooperation with all UN member states.

The announcement was received with sweeping applause at the ceremony, especially from representatives of other developing countries. 

“I think it’s very generous of China to offer space technology for other countries,” said Priyanee Wijesekera, a representative of Sri Lanka to the UN.  “China has been a good friend of Sri Lanka for the past 70 years. So I’m sure we will be making use of it, because Sri Lanka itself cannot afford space technology, but there’s so much benefit that we can get.”

Simonetta Di Pippo, the director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), welcomed China’s move and said that the country was ready to share its “state of the art space program,” which is, “one of the most holistic and technologically advanced in the world.”

In 2016, the United Nations, represented by UNOOSA, confirmed its partnership with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to allow “Access to Space” to all UN member states, developing countries in particular, to address all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by jointly utilizing the China Space Station. 

Following Monday’s announcement, UNOOSA extended official letters to all Permanent Missions in Vienna and New York as well as the offices of the United Nations Development Program, kicking off a three-month application period for public organizations, industries and private sector organizations with a scientific orientation. 

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