Bill Nelson, the head of NASA, has warned that China may attempt to claim territory on the Moon if it beats the US to setting up permanent bases on the lunar surface.
“It is a fact: we’re in a space race,” Nelson told US-based German-owned newspaper The Politico. “And it is true that we better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory.”
Nelson also talked about China’s aggression in the South China Sea, where the Chinese government has routinely made claims of sovereignty over areas belonging to other countries.
Terry Virts, the former commander of the International Space Station (ISS) also expressed concern, saying that “There is potentially mischief China can do on the moon.”
According to The Politico report, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in a statement: “Some US officials have spoken irresponsibly to misrepresent the normal and legitimate space endeavors of China. Outer space is not a wrestling ground. The exploration and peaceful uses of outer space is humanity’s common endeavor and should benefit all. China always advocated 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.”
China’s space program succeeded in establishing a new space station earlier this year. Meanwhile, NASA has been working on its Artemis series of missions to the moon.