The Chinese space program is under the auspices of the National Defense Ministry and plans to begin building a space station next year.
"China is worried, and some may say it's a bigger threat than Russia," says a source from the British government. "Of course, there is a danger of intelligence from the Chinese, they are very smart and very good at acquiring information they do not have. They have many long-term plans and you never know what their goals are."
Defense experts have warned that the current legal "free for all" in space has nothing to prevent countries from hindering GPS satellites, launching cyber attacks, or using lasers to destroy space assets.
China has already demonstrated its ability to capture satellites from the sky and in 2013 used a missile system to destroy the spacecraft at 35,000 kilometers, a height that was once considered unattainable.
Nigel Inster, former director of operations and intelligence in MI6, now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said: "I do not think China has made a secret about its ambitions for space goals and of course it has a military element for it.
"China is acutely aware that the US has designs for spatial military capabilities and are trying to ensure that they can master or overcome and develop military force to be a credible threat. It sends a signal that they now have more capabilities and I think Donald Trump will certainly use it to insist on a new cosmic force. "
China is only the third nation, after the United States and Russia, to make a soft landing on another world, and although the Chang'e 4 space explorer will primarily investigate the history of the Moon's surface and the solar system, it will also try to grow potatoes, hunting for mineral deposits and research into new communication links.
"China does not just do it for science," says Dr. Malcolm Davies, an expert in the Chinese military and spatial policy of the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy. "The Chinese space program is a military movement and everything they do has either direct military gain or long-term indirect strategic benefit," he said.
Professor Rona Mitter, an expert on the history and politics of modern China at Oxford University, added: "Much of China's technological development is associated with research by military branches, so military applications of space technology will surely be considered by Beijing" .
China carried out its first aviation mission in 2003, the only third country to do so after Russia and the United States. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit and plans to launch Mars rover in the mid-2020s.
Shortly after becoming China's president in 2013, Xi Jingping said the "space dream" would make the country stronger.
Today, a Henry Jackson Society report warned that China could surpass Britain next year as the world's second-largest force behind the US after huge investment in research and development, and the rapid expansion of the defense budget became a "serious challenge for the West."
Last month, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced it was spending 160 million pounds ($ 288 million) to develop ways to deal with future threats, including cyber and space warfare.
Recent advances also increase the likelihood that the Chinese will return people to the moon before the United States.
Professor Lord Martin Rees, the British astronomer Royal, said: "The Chinese have a lot of enthusiasm to do before they can fit the record of US or European programs.
"But with their technical virtuosity and conductive government, they could, if they wish, take the lead in the development of the lunar base."