JEAIL > Volume 6(1); 2013 > Notes & Comments
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2013

Legal Issues of China's Possible Participation in the International Space Station: Comparing to the Russian Experience

Yun Zhao
University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law
Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


China has made great achievements in space activities in recent years. While emphasizing the principle of self-independence, China also acknowledges the importance of space cooperation. As early as 2001, China indicated its interest in joining the International Space Station. However, no substantive progress has been made concerning China's participation thus far. This may be a result of political and economic, rather than legal and technical, considerations. There is no doubt that China's participation shall contribute to the sustainable development of the ISS. China's participation could also offer an excellent opportunity to reexamine the 1998 framework and clarify or improve certain provisions that exist in the current regime. While technologically ready for participation, China should start considering possible legal issues that may arise from its participation in the ISS project. This article takes up the challenging task of identifying potential legal issues that may arise in the course of China's participation in the ISS and offers suggestions for a future cooperative legal framework regarding the ISS.

Keywords: International Space Station, Space Cooperation, Inter-Governmental Agreement, Outer Space Treaty

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