- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2006

MOSCOW - Russia will cooperate with China on space projects, but will not transfer sensitive technologies that could enable Beijing to become a rival in a space race, the head of Russias space agency announced last week.

Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russias Federal Space Agency, said Moscow and Beijing would cooperate in robotic missions to the moon. He added, however, that Russia would maintain restrictions on sharing technology.

Russia sold China the technology that formed the basis of its manned space program, which launched its first astronaut in 2003 and two others in 2005. The Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft closely resembles the Russian Soyuz.

“The Chinese are still some 30 years behind us, but their space program has been developing very fast,” Mr. Perminov said. “They are quickly catching up with us.”

The next Chinese manned spaceflight is due this year. China wants to send up a space station and land a robot probe on the moon by 2010.

Mr. Perminov said that Russia would cooperate with China in space exploration strictly within the framework of a bilateral agreement that doesnt envisage exporting Russian space technologies.

“We arent transferring any technologies to China now,” Mr. Perminov said. “This issue has been under special control of the government.”

He said some Russian scientists who violated the ban have been punished an apparent reference to Valentin Danilov, a physicist convicted in 2004 of spying for China. Mr. Danilov pleaded not guilty, saying the information on satellites he provided was not classified and that he had published some of it in scientific magazines.

“For China, whose economy has seen an immense growth, its space program has been one of the top national priorities,” he said. “They are spending much more on space compared to Russia and their space industries employ many times more scientists and workers than Russias.”

After decades of rivalry, Moscow and Beijing have developed what they call a strategic partnership since the 1991 Soviet collapse, pledging their adherence to a “multipolar world,” a term that refers to their opposition to the perceived U.S. domination. China also has become a top customer for Russias weapon industries, purchasing billions of dollars’ worth of jets, missiles, submarines and destroyers.

Despite the burgeoning bilateral ties, some Russian politicians and political analysts have voiced concern that Chinas growth eventually could threaten Russia and pointed at a growing flow of Chinese migrants to Russias sparsely populated Far East.

Mr. Perminov said Russia led the world in the number of space launches in 2006, about 40 percent and ahead of the United States, which he said had a 28 percent share.

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