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Feb. 16, 2024

China-Latin America Space Cooperation: An Overview

By R. Evan Ellis

As China has increased its political and economic cooperation with Latin America, it has also expanded its space engagement with the region.

In September 2023, during a visit to China, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro announced an agreement in which China would transport Venezuelans to a research base it plans to build on the moon, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project. As illustrated by the deal, China’s expanding space capabilities create imperatives for associated engagement around the globe, from initiatives to build international coalitions, such as ILRS, to the search for access to ground stations and other space communication sites to support China’s expanding constellation of satellites, which currently number 700, as well as beyond-Earth missions. Deepening rivalry with the United States also makes China’s access to space from points in both hemispheres and the polar regions a strategic imperative for the space component of any future conflict with the West.

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Photo of the main antenna of the Espacio Lejano Station, China’s deep space ground station in Neuquén province, Argentina, from Wikimedia Commons via article at The Diplomat