China has decried “irresponsible remarks” by an official from NASA about the country’s regular activities in outer space and what was claimed to be Beijing’s possible efforts to take over the Moon as part of a military program.
Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, made the comment in a press briefing on Monday after NASA's administrator Bill Nelson told German newspaper Bild that China was contemplating a "takeover" of the Moon as part of its military space program.
Nelson said China's space program was a military one and claimed China had stolen ideas and technology from others. The US space agency chief also claimed Chinese astronauts were learning how to destroy satellites belonging to other countries.
"This is not the first time that United States' NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has disregarded the facts, talked as they pleased, and smeared China. Some US officials continue to make up facts and slander China's normal and reasonable foreign affairs. China firmly opposes such irresponsible remarks," Zhao said in the presser.
"We urge the US official to earnestly bear the responsibilities of a major country, seriously examine and rectify the negative influence of the US in outer space, and make due contributions to the maintenance of sustained peace and security in the outer space."
The foreign ministry official said Beijing has always promoted the building of a shared future for humanity in outer space and opposed any arms race in space.
China has over the past decade expedited its space program, with exploration of the Moon having come into focus. China made its first lunar uncrewed landing in 2013 and expects to launch rockets powerful enough to send astronauts to the Moon towards the end of the current decade.
NASA, under its Artemis program, plans to send a crewed mission to orbit the Moon in 2024 and make a crewed landing near the lunar South Pole by 2025.