Perhaps, as the expression goes, hypocrisy rules the world; but certainly hypocrisy rules politics, at least the political aspect of U.S.-China relations relating to the establishment of rules intended to bring order to potential dangerous situations. Each country purports to want rules, but only in areas where it suits them, and then follows them when convenient. China is pushing for rules related to the weaponization of space, which the United States has summarily rejected, repeatedly. The United States wants an agreement on air-to-air encounters; the Chinese are stalling. Whether the rationale behind the desire for rules, order and predictability in potentially unstable and dangerous situations will prevail over other perceived interests remains to be seen.
In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly voted on a resolution called the “Prevention of Outer Space Arms Race.” It was adopted by a vote of 163 in favor to none against, with three abstentions: the Federated States of Micronesia, Israel and the United States. On December 8, 2003, 174 nations voted “yes” on a United Nations resolution calling for negotiations toward preventing an arms race in space. Only four countries abstained: the United States, Israel, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and even Israel aside, it is not difficult to understand how some countries might get the impression that the United States is stiff-arming strong international opinion that space should remain a sanctuary from weapons and warfare.