I will be arguing that a space race will bring more harms than benefits compared to the alternative that is peacefull cooperation between China and the US.
THE IMMIDIATE HARMS OF A SPACE RACE
CONTENTION 1: A mistake is twice as harmfull when you don't learn from it the first time
The one constant among the myrriad of possible space scenarios in the future is that there will be made a lot of mistakes. This is the curse of human imperfection, and it plays the most important role in any analysis of the future. Looking at the development of SpaceX, a commercial company that can't afford excessive failing, their projects were riddled with mistake and failure and still are [1
]. The all-important factor is not whether or not we make mistakes but whether or not we learn from our mistakes, improve, move forward and perservere. Every mistake is a valuable lesson. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The problem with a space race is that the two sides will hide away as much information as possible to prevent their adversary from accessing helpful information. In a space race, mistakes are embarrasing state secrets. Instead of learning from each other's mistakes, both China and the US will make them separately. Essentially, we can strongly expect there to be far more accidents, problems and technical failures related to space exploration in a world with a sinoamerican space race.
CONTENTION 2: Wasted time and resources
In the same tone as the previous argument, secrecy and competition makes things harder for everyone. There will be required more time, resources and effort in total when two huge nations try to individually achieve the same types goals faster than their competitor. The minimum amount of new technologicy necesary to achieve any given goal in the space industry doesn't change if there is a space race. What does change is the effort each nation must put into their programs to harvest the same rewards. An obvious analogy is to the Nasa competition with the USSR contra its cooperation with Russia. "By drawing on each other’s strengths, the U.S. and Russian space programs have both benefited. While the United States has consistently taken the lead on both spending and scientific research in space, its cooperation with Russia has been a significant enabling factor.
Russia, a struggling economic and political shaddow of the USSR's power, can significantly enhance the capabilities of the US space industry --- and that is also the case for powers smaller still; like Japan and France. There is absolutely no doubt that the product is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to collaborative space efforts. Dividing the worlds efforts into competing blocks severly diminishes the returns we get on our investsments. Moreover, duplicating acomplishments doesn't duplicate the benefits, it just means every step along the way is twice as expensive for humanity as a whole. Expert Head concludes in an article of scientific-american regarding Chinese-American cooperation:
The solar system is such a big place. If we’re all duplicating everything individually, that is just stupid. Collaboration, cooperation, coordination—that’s absolutely the way to go [3
CONTENTION 3: Space races are inherently dangerous and unsubstainable
A space race may or may not provocate the governments to funnel excessive ammounts of national resources into space programs. I will admit, such investment would like bring benefits: creating jobs, reducing unemployment, spearheading new technology and boosting the economy. Space programs are rock solid investments on their own. What must be considdered though is the long run, in which the space race proves a terrible boss AND a terrible driver of progress. When the USSR collapsed, the US no longer saw any political benefit to be gained from Nasa, and the funding of the organization has been steadily declining. Not before commercial companies set their eyes on space travel did things start to accelerate again. Interrnational competition is an unreliable driver of progress in the field of space exploration. Rushing to arbitrary goals makes no sense in the long run. What we should instead seek is purposefull, well-planned out and substainable progress.
On first analysis, international cooperation might seem to decrease employment in the United States, because foreignnations are building components that might otherwise be constructed in the United States. In practice, those who areemployed may see more stability in their jobs due to the twin utility losses associated with employment terminationand diplomatic prestige loss [4
This article brilliantly lays out the range of benefits associated with international projects like the ISS station. On this particular topic that is employment in the space industry, it turns out that international cooperation makes terminating a given project extremely expensive politically and diplomatically. "International cooperation is valuable to a given nation in that it tends to increase political sustainability. Within theUnited States, a program is made safer from cancellation to the extent that Congress and the administration are notwilling to break international agreements.
]. The overwhelming conclusion is that space races harm workforce stability compared to collaberative efforts between the two nations. This valid observation proves the contention that space races are unreliable at providing benefits. This means that whatever benefit of space races that PRO can point at, there is the objection of unreliability and instability likely defeating its merit. In essence I have already partly rebutted any argument PRO could possibly make.
CONTENTION 4: A united world or a world torn apart
A space race's only plausible cause is two nations wanting to dominate the world. Anything less selfish would mean collaboration is preferred.
"Russia-U.S. cooperation in space shows that the China exclusion policy is motivated less by the security risks of opening up to China, and more by the U.S. fear of losing its leadership position. It also illustrates the loss of potential that the policy has meant for both sides. [ibid
The tittle is overdramatic, but the message is real. The US has a legal prohibition against Nasa cooperating with China, whilst Russia has already started cooperating with the US adversary. With China overtaking the US economically and eventually technologically due to their enormous population, it is only a matter of time before nations may choose to cooperate with China instead of the US. This is realistic as participating in two competing set of space alliances with similar but competing space programs is not something any nation would want to. Hence, unless the two most powerfull nations on Earth work together, they will likely tear the world into to factions once again. Now, this won't cause another cold war, at least not definately. But it certainly will have major downsides. Alternatively, joint programs between the giants will unite the world eventually and benefit everyone immidiately.
Chinese participation in joint space exploration would send a strong signal to the world of good Sino-American relations. This would simultaneously increase the nation's prestige by demonstrating their technological prowess. Similarly, Chinese participation in joint space exploration would signal growing cooperation between the two nations. These diplomatic incentives may come at a cost for thecooperating nations; for example, China would likely have to make concessions in the form of more stringent technology export controls and/or better observance of human rights standards. If space exploration is successfully usedas a diplomatic tool to exert such “soft power,” its utility increases in proportion to the degree that it is successful inimplementing a policymaker’s agenda [ibid
Instead of whining about human rights and tearing the world apart by creating a divide between the two giants of the world, a better approach to the future will be soft-power, or diplomatic and economic influence. America and China can decrease tensions and improve their relations by collaboration in projects, and use soft power to sort out their differences and influence the other nation. Not only will this have a higher chance of succed, it also doesn't send a message to the world that the nations are selfish and powerhungry. The diplomatic prestige and utility certainly outweights the necesary compromises, for both sides.
International cooperation in space exploration has the potential to provide significant benefits to all participants, particularly if managed well. Benefits in the form of monetary efficiency, programmatic and political sustainability, and workforce stability will accrue to those partners who choose to approach space exploration as a mutually beneficial endeavor [ibid
International cooperation in space exploration has the potential to provide significant benefits to all participants, particularly if managed well. Benefits in the form of monetary efficiency, programmatic and political sustainability, and workforce stability will accrue to those partners who choose to approach space exploration as a mutually beneficial endeavor [ibid]
A space race between the US and China will bring about more harm than benefits. The resolution fails.
I have not even began to discuss the dangers of a hostile scientific enviroment, the problem of taking Earthly disputes to space, the possibility of space debree or weaponry being used against one's adversary and a lot of other potential problems that can occour solely in a world dominated by a space race.
I rest my case.