NASA chief Bill Nelson said China wants to land on the moon and tell other nations to "stay out."
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson rebutted the remarks, calling them "irresponsible."
He accused the US of "constantly smearing China's normal and reasonable outer space undertakings."
A Chinese government spokesman has rebutted NASA head Bill Nelson's warning that China might be planning to take over the moon.
In an interview with the German news outlet Bild published on Saturday, Nelson said, "We must be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and saying: It's ours now and you stay out."
He also criticized China's "military space program" and claimed that the country was formulating means to "destroy other people's satellites," per the outlet.
"China is good. But China is also good at stealing ideas and technology from others," Nelson told Bild.
Responding on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said during a press conference that China "firmly rejects such remarks."
Separately, Chinese state media outlet CGTN reported Zhao saying: "Some US officials are constantly smearing China's normal and reasonable outer space undertakings."
Per the outlet, he added that the US was creating a "great threat" to space exploration while insisting that China's space program was only meant to meet the country's technological, scientific, and security needs.
The Global Times, another Chinese state media outlet, also lashed out at Nelson via an anonymous op-ed, calling the NASA chief "colonial-minded" and accusing him of exaggerating the "'China threat' in space."
The International Space Station — also known as the ISS — is the only fully operational space station. However, cracks have been found in the station's Russian module, and the station is likely to be deorbited sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.
The Chinese also plan to send astronauts to the moon by the 2030s. In November, Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping became the first Chinese woman ever to complete a spacewalk while on a mission to the Tiangong space station, which is still being constructed.
In June 2021, a Chinese company also said it was working on plans for a "space ladder" to beam humans and cargo to Mars in a capsule.
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