China’s quotes Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency, as saying he favors China’s inclusion in the international space station (ISS) partnership, which now consists of the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia.

“‘I am really willing to support the extension of the partnership of the ISS to China and South Korea. Obviously, this should be a decision by all partners, not the decision by one partner,’ [Dordain] said.”

Stranger things have happened: Who’d have envisioned Russia as an ISS partner when the project was hatched by the administration of Cold Warrior-President Ronald Reagan?  It’s conceivable that China, which has ambitions for its own orbital outpost, could provide cargo or perhaps even crew transportation services to the ISS, assuming the substantial political hurdles can be cleared. China’s rockets are gaining a reputation for reliability — in spite of a mishap last year — and the nation’s Shenzou space capsule is based closely on Russia’s venerable Soyuz.