During an interview with POLITICO published on New Year's Day, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called attention to the communist country's attempts to gain control of the moon's resource-rich areas. He cautioned that this could become a reality if China gains the upper hand against the United States.
"It is a fact: We're in a space race," Nelson told the outlet. "And it is true that we better watch out that they [China] don't get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say 'Keep out, we're here, this is our territory.'" (Related: NASA warns about Chinese plans to install permanent base on moon: "We're in a space race.")
According to the NASA administrator and former astronaut, "there are only so many places on the south pole on the moon that are adequate for harvesting water and so forth."
Moreover, Nelson cited an example here on Earth as a red flag of what China can do the moment it reaches space: "If you doubt that, look at what they did with the Spratly Islands."
The head of the U.S. space agency acknowledged that China, "within the last decade, has had enormous success and advances" in its space program. He added: "It is also true that their date for landing on the moon keeps getting closer and closer."
In spite of this, he still expressed confidence that NASA has what it takes to win the space race once more and fulfill its set goal of sending a manned mission to the moon in 2025.
Back in 2019, the China National Space Administration – the country's counterpart to NASA – successfully performed a soft landing on the moon's far side as part of its Chang'e 4 robotic mission. It was later able to deliver samples from the moon back to Earth. According to Beijing, it expects to put a man on the moon before 2030 and to later establish a scientific research station there.
Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, remarked that "outer space is not a wrestling ground, but an important field for win-win cooperation." He reiterated that the exploration of space is "humanity's common endeavor and should benefit all," adding that China was committed to cooperating with other countries on this.
"Some U.S. officials have spoken irresponsibly to misrepresent the normal and legitimate space endeavors of China," Liu lamented. "China firmly rejects such remarks [and] always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, opposes the weaponization of and arms race in outer space and works actively toward building a community with a shared future for mankind in the space domain."
But retired Air Force Col. Terry Virts, a former commander of the International Space Station and Space Shuttle, begs to differ. He said in an interview that Washington and Beijing's race to the moon has political and security components.
"On one level, it is a political competition to show whose system works better. What [China] really wants is respect as the world's top country. They want to be the dominant power on Earth, so going to the moon is a way to show their system is working. If they beat us back to the moon, it shows they are better than us."
"[On another level], there is potentially mischief China can do on the moon. If they set up infrastructure there – they could potentially deny communications, for example. Having them there doesn’t make things easier. There is real concern about Chinese meddling."
Watch China affairs commentator Gordon Chang explain why China's space program serves as its attempt to take the solar system below.
This video is from the Chinese taking down EVIL CCP channel on Brighteon.com.