In light of China and Pakistan’s all-weather friendship, regional analysts have written extensively about their military cooperation. However, South Asia’s watchdogs have devoted considerably less attention to their space association. This is despite the fact that as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Beijing and Islamabad recently agreed to prioritize space collaboration.
For the first time, China is going to admit foreign students in its aerospace institute, including some from Pakistan.
Space Science professor Jiao Weizix of Pecking University told,
“China’s aerospace industry technology is comprehensive, especially its satellites for navigation, communication and meteorology, a field in which China can and would like to help other countries cultivate talent. The enrollment of foreign students also proves that China’s technology in the field has made a huge progress during the past years.”
China Academy of Space Technology already cooperates with Pakistan, Algeria, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Ethiopia under the Know-How project.
Pakistan has requested China’s participation in the development of PRSS. Scheduled for launch in 2018, PRSS will be developed and launched through international collaboration. Once established, PRSS will prove beneficial for the Pakistani forces, especially in terms of reconnaissance and surveillance during peace and wartime. However, SUPARCO’s space technologies remain far behind the country’s actual needs, and the agency’s scope pales in comparison to its Indian counterpart, despite generous Chinese assistance.
China-Pakistan cooperation in space technology spans over two decades. In 1990 Pakistan launched its first indigenously-developed satellite, Badar-1, from China. A year later they formally signed an agreement to enhance cooperation for peaceful applications of space technologies, and various other agreements in the same vein have ensued.
Regardless of how other states respond, China-Pakistan space cooperation is timely and mutually beneficial. China is looking for a market for its growing space expertise. And Pakistan needs assistance with soft loans, training of its scientists and know-how in space sciences. This cooperation adds a new dimension to their already robust relationship. It brings Pakistan closer to China than ever before.