The International Space Station is just that – a place where international space agencies can work together in an effort to accomplish common goals: better understanding outer space and how it impacts various processes, sciences, and the likes.
More than a dozen different countries have visited the International Space Station since the first components reached outer space, including Russia, which boasts one of the most capable space agencies besides the United States. China, on the other hand, isn’t one of them. Despite its interests in collaborating on the International Space Station, China was officially barred from visiting by the United States in 2011.
Initially, China’s five-year-old space agency was viewed as too young and inexperienced to offer any useful contributions to the International Space Station. Soon after the Chinese developed their own space stations and sent astronauts to space to visit them, it became clear that this wasn’t the case.
Later, trust issues would become the source of the United States’ unwillingness to work with China on the International Space Station. Two matters of distrust, including the use of an anti-satellite weapon and the hacking of Jet Propulsion Laboratory intellectual property, purportedly fueled a bill passed in 2011 to ban China from the International Space Station.
Even today, China isn’t allowed to visit the International Space Station, but other space agencies apart form NASA have expressed how they wouldn’t mind having China onboard. After all, it’s international collaboration that conceived the International Space Station in the first place, and with more brilliant minds in outer space, humanity could spring forward into the next era of technological advancements in space.