The worldly tensions notwithstanding, a space race with China might be the most important challenge in the competition among world economic superpowers, according to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
"We are beginning the next great space race," Gingrich wrote in a Fox News op-ed Sunday. "It's the United States versus China, in competition to be first to create systems for commercial space travel, to establish outposts on the moon, and ultimately to colonize other planets.
"Never has the time been more important to discuss the future of space exploration and the importance of space as an infrastructure investment."
Gingrich believes "no issue is more important" than winning the space race and it must come with a public-private partnership with NASA and innovative companies like SpaceX.
"China seems to understand what's at stake and has more launches into orbit than the U.S.," he said. "The Chinese government is giving its commercial space companies huge subsidies to grow a massive industry.
"The Chinese are also copying and stealing American and Russian technology. Beijing is growing its commercial space capabilities rapidly, investing in the effort to influence the future.
"The Chinese threat in space is real, and America cannot become complacent."
Allowing China to get ahead in space will ultimately be a detriment to "humanity," Gingrich concluded.
"Space holds effectively unlimited resources and can provide boundless opportunities for humanity," he wrote. "But if China's communist dictatorship outpaces the U.S. in space, hope will quickly turn into despair.
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