Chinese Billionaire Calls for Revamp of Commercial Space Policy

A Long March 3-B rocket lifts off with China’s Chang’e-3 lunar rover. (Credit: CAST)

The head of China’s largest search engine wants China to reform its space regulations.

Baidu Inc. Chief Executive Officer Robin Li, whose company is competing with Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo to commercialize self-driving technology, wants Beijing to take the lead in getting Chinese enterprises to collaborate on research and craft a regulatory framework. His proposal was included among a raft of others he will put forth at an annual meeting of regulators this week, in a wish-list that includes a dream of seeing a Chinese private space-exploration leader — a la Elon Musk’s SpaceX….

Li also lamented the state of China’s space industry. As with self-driving cars, he wants Beijing to enact policies to encourage private investment in rocket and satellite production and launch technology.

“We need to slowly resolve the current complexity of obtaining approvals, the closed nature of the market, the lack of competitiveness and other issues,” he wrote. “We need to attract talent and encourage innovation, to lift our nation’s aerospace industry’s competitiveness on an international stage.”

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  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    This will be an interesting experiment to watch if it goes anywhere. Until recently most Chinese enterprises that did not have massive Western assistance looked and acted rather Soviet/Chi-Com. Look at China’s new DDG, H-6, and of course the ARJ-21 and now C-919. Considering the C-919 has massive Western input, and it’s still in a lagged development cycyle that’s starting to look like the ARJ-21. Robin Li”s success in the Chinese market was enforced by the Chinese communist party against Western operations in that country. I question how successful he will be when he’s competing against not only other Chinese, but the Chinese communist party itself.

  • JamesG

    China is into its second generation of post-communist, Western-style educated capitalists and entrepreneurs, and are beginning to innovate instead of simply mimic because they now have the engineering and technological base with which to do so. Be careful of looking at them and what they do, esp. in public-private aerospace thru the lens of Western practices.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I agree at some point they’ll innovate just as the Japanese and S Koreans did. But it’s not apparent yet. China builds good Airbus A320’s and the MD-90’s that were license built with McDonnell-Douglass that Delta has been operating for the past 8 or so years worked out well. But look at the domestic only programs ARJ-21 and C-919. Those programs are disasters, and the results from H-6 (An attempt to give the PLAN a long range maritime patrol and strike capability) leaves a lot to be desired (Well for them to desire, I’m quite happy they have such a POS to patrol the Pacific with.). I’m ready to believe that one day China will innovate like their neighbours. But it’s not showing itself yet in aerospace hardware that’s being developed now.