China has denied accusations by Nasa chief Bill Nelson that it might attempt to “take over” the moon as part of its military space programme, adding that it aimed to build a shared future for humanity.
“We must be very cautious that China is landing on the lunar and proclaiming: ‘It’s ours now and you keep out,’” said Mr Nelson in an interview with German newspaper Bild, published on Saturday.
“China’s space programme is a military space programme... Well, what do you think is happening on the Chinese space station? They learn there how to destroy the satellites of others,” the Nasa administrator added.
He also accused China of stealing technological ideas “from others” for their space mission.
Reacting to the comments, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Mr Nelson had spoken carelessly.
“China resolutely condemns such dangerous accusations. The US side has steadily built a smear campaign regarding China’s regular and legal space endeavours,” he said in a statement.
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“The US side has constantly constructed a smear campaign against China’s normal and reasonable outer space endeavours, and China firmly opposes such irresponsible remarks,” Mr Zhao said, according to Reuters.
China has made strides in space exploration in the past decade with experts observing that the country is proceeding in a more cautious manner than the US and the Soviet Union at the height of the space race.
The country made its first uncrewed lunar landing in 2013, is building its own space station, and is also expecting to land astronauts on the moon by 2030.
Nasa also has a slate of several ambitious missions planned for the decade, including its Artemis missions, where it plans to send astronauts back to the moon.