The Brussels Space Policy Round Table - The Ups and Downs of Euro-China Space Cooperation

When: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where: European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), 67 Rue de la Loi, 1040, Brussels


The complex Europe-China relationship in space began decades ago. It has, at the same time, made encouraging achievements, endured some notable setbacks and appears to have set its sight on new horizons at the latest EU-China summit in Beijing in February. At that time the European Union and Chinese leaders rather cryptically "reaffirmed that they will continue the cooperation in the area of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) following the 2003 Agreement, with an effort to make positive progress in the cooperation, and to seek and foster new cooperation areas in satellite navigation science and its application." They then added that "Both sides applauded the efforts to sign the EU-China Cooperation on Space Elements of Consensus, support the establishment of a structured dialogue on space technology cooperation, and the holding of the EUChina Space Technology Cooperation Conference at an appropriate time." While since then there have been no public details, or definitions of these plans, the indication is clear that new efforts will be made to re-establish a dialogue seriously disrupted by previous differences over COMPASS-GALILEO project in recent years.

Examples of cooperation

China and Europe have taken part in an extensive scientific collaboration for more than three decades, starting on July 11 1980, with an agreement signed between the National Commission for Science and Technology of the PRC and the European Space Agency on the exchange of scientific data. Starting in1992, Chinese scientists collaborated on the European Cluster project to study solar winds and earth magnetism in a joint structure. Sweden launched its Freja satellite on a Chinese vehicle in 1992. Another example of collaboration was the Dragon Programme (龙计划). In 1994, the ESA and China's National Remote Sensing Centre (CNRSC) created a partnership that allowed ground stations in Beijing to receive data from the European Remote Sensing (ERS) satellites. This cooperation gained momentum in 2004, when a joint programme was launched to exploit data, engage in information exchanges and joint training. The Dragon 2 Programme started in 2008, following the success of the first operation. The University of Surrey and Beijing's Tsinghua University have also been engaging in collaboration since1998, and opened a joint lab in 2007 at Beijing University of Aeronautics. Germany helped China design satellites and established cooperation with Eurospace to develop satellites. An agreement was signed in 2001 for the ESA to support the Double Star Programme (双星计划) with an investment of 8€ million. Following the ESA's Cluster project, focusing on solar winds and earth magnetism, allows European equipment and components to be part of Chinese satellites. On the policy level the EU is currently engaging with China and other leading space powers in negotiations on an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. This has been and it will be a long and difficult process before any agreement is reached since the EU and China have a very different understanding of space sustainability and means to achieve it.


The Secure World Foundation and the European Institute for Asian Studies are partnering to organize an event titled The Ups and Downs of Euro-China Space Cooperation, as the part of the SWF's Brussels Space Policy Round Table series of short panel discussions focused on significant global space events with a particular emphasis on Europe. The schedule of these events is driven by the important occurrences in the space sector. This event will focus on an overview of Europe-China cooperation in space, highlighting some success stories, discussing challenges, the current situation and the way forward. Please, note that this event will be under the Chatham Rules.

Speakers Include:

Read the bios of the speakers here.

Please, find below the presentations from the event:

The summary report from the event can be found here.

For further information, please contact Agnieszka Lukaszczyk (

Last updated on December 10, 2017