After landing their probe on the dark side of the moon, Chinese authorities revealed that their Patagonian deep space station in Argentina has played a key role. However, the space center's activities have raised the eyebrows of the local residents, as they believe that its operations are controlled by the Chinese military.
Chinese-run space station in Argentina shrouded in secrecy, people say it is not for scientific research
Several experts believe that China could be using these kind of space stations to spy on other countries.
Mysteries shrouding Chinese space station
A few years back, Susan Malcorra, Argentina's former foreign minister had revisited the deal between two countries and included a stipulation that it could be used for civilian purposes only. However, experts warn that no enforcement mechanisms can ensure that it is not being used for military activities.
"It really doesn't matter what it says in the contract or in the agreement. How do you make sure they play by the rules? I would say that, given that one of the actors involved in the agreements reports directly to the Chinese military, it is at least intriguing to see that the Argentine government did not deal with this issue with greater specificity," said Juan Uriburu, an Argentine lawyer who had previously worked on two major Argentina-China joint ventures, Express.co.uk reports.
It should be noted that the Patagonian station is managed by the China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC), which is reporting to the People's Liberation Army's Strategic Support Force.
Amid all these controversies and speculations, China has several times repeated that the Patagonian station is for peaceful space observation, and it has nothing to do with military activities.
Is China spying on other countries?
Tony Beasley, director of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory revealed that the space station could help the Chinese military to decode communication through other government satellites, and thus, they can spy on other countries effectively. However, he made it clear that the same could be accomplished using less sophisticated devices.
"Anyone can do that. I can do that with a dish in my backyard, basically. I don't know if there's anything particularly sinister or troubling about any part of China's space radio network in Argentina," added Beasley.