In the case of China, NASA & the US are prevented from any bilateral agreement thanks to a bill initiated by Congressman Frank Wolf. China first walked in space in 2003 and now in 2013 they are visiting their temporary digs on their space station, Tiangong-1 space lab, soon to be followed by Tiangong- 2 and then a planned permanent station. They have made great strides in a very short while and this space program that has been accomplished largely on their own, with no or little assistance from space going nations. All this promises to help China to meet its goal of a manned mission to the moon. The year 2025 has been tossed around though no firm plan is as of yet in place.
What does this mean the United States? There are two possible answers and solutions. Either the US needs to do away with the previous resolution preventing NASA & OSTP from using any federal funds “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company”, or the US needs to enter into a new space race.
Choosing no political side and merely looking at the facts, a new space race would require some hardcore decisions. The US today could easily end up spending themselves into oblivion. If they chose they could take apart the entire budget and instead of trying to make cuts, start from scratch and make each department explain every dollar. The massive cuts to everything from the dollars spent on defense to the money from the riders to bills that quickly add up; if that was done then there might be a chance. On the other hand if the president were to make allowances for joint ventures in space with China utilizing our knowledge we could cut our deficit in the exchange and not be shut out of space when China accomplishes their mission.
Going forward the United States and NASA have some great plans and missions in the pipeline. Fund these missions and if all of them occur as planned, a space race or an agreement may both become unnecessary.