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Chinese President Says Space Program is Peaceful


Chinese President Hu Jintao focused on the non-agressive nature of China's military-backed space program at a ceremony Wednesday, celebrating the country's successful launch of a moon probe.

Addressing an audience of Communist Party officials, schoolchildren and military officers, Mr. Hu said China's deep-space exploration is for peaceful purposes and for the good of mankind.

The ceremony was held Wednesday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People and celebrated China's October launch of the Chang'e 1 lunar satellite.

The lunar probe will survey the entire surface of the moon over the next year, and began transmitting photos back to Earth several weeks ago.

Its launch came shortly after the start of a similar mission by Japan, prompting speculation over a new space race in Asia.

China's neighbor and other rival in Asia, India, plans to launch its first lunar probe in April.

In 2003, China became the first Asian country to put an astronaut into space, after the then Soviet Union and the United States.

China recently made public its plans to launch a space station to orbit the Earth by 2020.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.