China has offered a four-point proposal to boost Sino-US space cooperation, said Sun Laiyan, administrator of China National Space Administration.
Sun was speaking on Monday during an interview. He held formal talks with his U.S. counterpart Michael Griffin, administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in Beijing on Sunday.
"The two sides expressed willingness to jointly promote Sino-American space cooperation to further contribute to constructive and cooperative relations," Sun said.
China's proposals, based on this consensus, were:
to strengthen exchanges and communication, increase mutual trust, foster friendship and promote cooperation.
to hold meetings every year to exchange views and concerns on certain issues in an effort to cement the stable development of bilateral space cooperation.
to jointly explore fields where the two sides could cooperate.
to eliminate obstacles and boost mutual trust to develop China-US constructive and cooperative ties, Sun said.
"Griffin's visit begins a new chapter in China-US space cooperation", Sun said, adding that the visit follows the implementation of the consensus reached between the two countries during Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit to the United States last April.
China will boost bilateral collaboration in fields such as space and earth science, as well as the moon exploration program based on the principles of "equality, mutual benefit, peaceful utilization and joint development," Sun noted.
"China is fully committed to cooperating with foreign countries, including the United States, on space exploration and to making its own contribution to the peaceful utilization of outer space and the well-being of the human race," Sun added.
China has already signed 16 pacts with 13 governments and organizations and established space industry cooperation with more than 40 countries and international organizations.
"I'm not well acquainted with China's capabilities, and one of the major purposes of this trip is to gain new insight into China's capabilities in space," Griffin said after talks with Sun.
Griffin and Sun met for an hour and half Sunday.
Griffin told a press conference on Monday afternoon that he was very impressed by what he saw during his visit to Beijing.
"China has clearly made enormous strides in a very short period of time in developing a space program," Griffin told reporters.
"The United States has taken a first step forward for helping establish the space program with China, but it's our get-acquainted visit, it's our exploratory visit and it's our first date," Griffin joked, indicating that there is no concrete plan yet for future bilateral space cooperation.
The NASA chief also admitted that differences still remain between the two nations in the space field.
"There are differences between our nations on certain key points", Griffin said, stressing that one of these major key points is the control of missiles.
Griffin labeled his China visit "a every productive trip" which offers an opportunity for different nations and different cultures to try to solve common problems in space exploration.
Griffin arrived in China last Saturday, starting his six-day official visit at Sun's invitation. He is the highest-ranking US space official to visit China in the last 12 years, according to the CNSA information.
Griffin will also visit a branch of China's Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.
(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2006)