China’s Space Ambitions: Emerging Dimensions of Competition

The Jamestown Foundation is proud to present an online webinar event, “China’s Space Ambitions: Emerging Dimensions of Competition, which took place on Wednesday, August 19, at 11:00 AM.

On June 23, a Chinese carrier rocket was launched carrying with it the Beidou Global Satellite Navigation System. This launch placed into orbit the 30th and final satellite of the Beidou third generation constellation, a People’s Liberation Army-led program that is a competitor to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS). This launch was just the latest in a burgeoning Chinese space program that is challenging America’s prior dominance in the field. The ongoing competition between the United States and China will extend into space, and making sense of this new dimension of conflict is imperative to understanding the future of this relationship.

To explain the space component of the U.S.-China rivalry, The Jamestown Foundation has gathered Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation, Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 Institute and John Dotson, editor of China Brief, to discuss this important subject.

Introduction By

Glen Howard
President, The Jamestown Foundation


Dean Cheng
Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

Mark Stokes
Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute


John Dotson
Editor, China Brief, The Jamestown Foundation

Participant Biographies

Dean Cheng brings detailed knowledge of China’s military and space capabilities to bear as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow on Chinese political and security affairs.

He specializes in China’s military and foreign policy, in particular its relationship with the rest of Asia and with the United States.

Cheng has written extensively on China’s military doctrine, technological implications of its space program and “dual use” issues associated with the communist nation’s industrial and scientific infrastructure.

He previously worked for 13 years as a senior analyst, first with Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), the Fortune 500 specialist in defense and homeland security, and then with the China Studies division of the Center for Naval Analyses, the federally funded research institute.

Before entering the private sector, Cheng studied China’s defense-industrial complex for a congressional agency, the Office of Technology Assessment, as an analyst in the International Security and Space Program.

Cheng has appeared on public affairs shows such as John McLaughlin’s One on One and programs on National Public Radio, CNN International, BBC World Service and International Television News (ITN). He has been interviewed by or provided commentary for publications such as Time magazine, The Washington PostFinancial TimesBloomberg NewsJane’s Defense Weekly, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Cheng has spoken at the National Space Symposium, National Defense University, the Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies.

Cheng earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University in 1986 and studied for a doctorate at MIT. He and his wife reside in Vienna, Va.


John Dotson assumed responsibilities as the editor of China Brief in 2019. John is a former officer in the U.S. Navy, whose assignments included positions at sea, in Japan, in Africa, and in the Pentagon. His service also included four years as an instructor on the faculty of the National Intelligence University, where he taught coursework on military strategy, intelligence analysis, and national security policy. John also served for six years on the staff of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, where he coordinated staff research on a range of trade and national-security issues on behalf of the U.S. Congress. He has performed extensive writing and research on a host of topics related to China, to include Chinese propaganda and influence efforts, and elite-level politics within the Chinese Communist Party. John holds an M.A. in National Security Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and a Master of International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins-SAIS.


Glen Howard is the President of the Jamestown Foundation, one of the world’s leading research and analysis organizations on Eurasia. Based in Washington, D.C., Mr. Howard has overseen the research and analysis activities of Jamestown for the past 16 years and extensively dealt with Russia and Eurasia in his capacity as Jamestown President, working with the regional leaders and national strategists across Eurasia from the Baltic to Central Asia.

An expert on Eurasia and Russia, Mr. Howard is the co-author with Matt Czekaj of the new book Russia’s Military Strategy and Doctrine, a collection of writings on Russian military strategy and doctrine by some of the world’s leading defense experts. Mr. Howard is also the editor of the book Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus, and other works. He has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, Real Clear Defense, the Hill, and other prominent publications.

Mr. Howard is privileged to have worked for the late Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski from 2002 to 2008 as the executive director of an advocacy organization seeking a peaceful resolution of the second Russo-Chechen war.  Mr. Howard worked at the U.S. Embassy Moscow from 1984-1986 and is fluent in Russian and proficient in French, Turkish and Azerbaijani.

Mr. Howard received a Master’s degree in Soviet and East European Studies from the University of Kansas (1988) and has an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in Business Management (1984)


Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Mark Stokes is Executive Director of the Project 2049 Institute. In addition to Taiwan issues, Mark’s research focus includes Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force, defense industry, military and political leadership, and cross-Strait relations. Mark has served in a variety of military and private sector positions. A 20 year U.S. Air Force veteran, he served in intelligence, planning, and policy positions. From 1984-1989, he was assigned to the Philippines and West Berlin. After graduate school and Chinese language training, Mark served as assistant air attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 1992 to 1995. From 1995 to May 1997, he was assigned as a strategic planner within the U.S. Air Force Plans and Operations Directorate. Between 1997 and 2004, he served as senior country director for China and Taiwan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. After retiring from military service, he worked in the private sector on Taiwan for more than three years. Mark joined Project 2049 in 2008. He holds a BA from Texas A&M University and graduate degrees in international relations and Asian studies from Boston University and the Naval Postgraduate School. He has working proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.