11 July 2012. Issue 61 of the "ESPI Perspectives" series examines the current status of, and future prospects for, space cooperation between Europe and the emerging space nations in East and Southeast Asia. The authors discuss the role of regional space organizations, provide an overview of the EU’s and ESA’s engagement with Asia, and, finally, offer some recommendations. The main focus is placed on forging an effective policy toward Asian countries which requires weighing carefully the region’s geopolitical sensitivities.
Asia is emerging as an epicentre of global geopolitical and economic activity in the 21st century. The rise of China, India and South Korea, economically and militarily, has been accompanied by advances in their space-related capabilities. Several other Asian countries have space programs as space is increasingly viewed as an essential “force-multiplier” to advance national interests. Europe is conscious of the shift in the state of play resulting from China’s demonstrated capability to undertake human spaceflight, Japan’s recent reorganization of its space mandate and management structure, as well as other important regional developments, and actively cooperates with its Asian counterparts. Europe has not yet achieved, however, a sufficiently structured approach to space developments in the Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia and engages with regional partners selectively based primarily on the synergies with its own activities. This ESPI Perspective seeks to provide an overview of the EU’s and ESA’s key policies and activities in Asia as they relate to space, as well as some suggestions for improved cooperation.