by Marcela Ganea
BUCHAREST, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation in the aerospace industry is pivotal to astronautic development as it helps eliminate distrust and fosters mutual confidence among countries, said Romania's first astronaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, hailing China's practice in this field.
"Only cooperation in various fields, including in space, can make nations know each other better and remove any traces of suspicion and build mutual trust," said Prunariu, also the former president of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The astronaut, who recently returned from the 21st International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Human in Space Symposium in China, praised China's efforts in promoting space cooperation and believes in its excellence.
"After the Belt and Road Initiative, I think China has a Galactic Initiative in mind. China has invited all developing nations to conduct experiments on its space station planned to operate in orbit in 2022," he said.
"In 2022, China will have its own space station, and it is currently encouraging the developing countries to take part in space programs for the benefit of mankind," he added.
The astronaut pointed out that for the first time in the history of the United Nations (UN), China proposed to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) an agreement for the organization to select experiments from developing countries to be conducted in the Chinese space station for free.
The move "proves that China considers the UN as highly important in international cooperation," said Prunariu, stressing that "no other nation has ever signed such an agreement."
"China is strikingly advanced in space activities and focused on manned flights," he said, adding that "time has shown that China is promoting space activities and is open to developing space projects as well as advanced science and technology."
The purpose is "to ensure national security and to gain its place, prestige and recognition on the global stage as a strong nation with a developing space industry and a high level of technology," said Prunariu.
The former astronaut also shared his experience regarding China when he was still the ASE president. "I personally insisted on having Chinese astronauts as members of the ASE and also on holding ASE conferences in Beijing in 2014, to start getting to know each other better."
"Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut, was elected a member of the ASE Board," said Prunariu.
The 21st IAA Human in Space Symposium, which took place in China's southern city of Shenzhen from Nov. 27th to 30th, gathered nine astronauts from six countries as special guests for a specialized panel and hundreds of researchers from 60 countries.