China could soon be sending astronauts up into outer space.
China could soon be sending astronauts up into outer space. - 

Steve Chiotakis: China has unveiled plans for space exploration over the next five years. The country says it'll launch space laboratories, manned spaceships, and an eventual goal of building a space station and putting a man on the moon.

Andrew Leung is a Chinese business consultant. He's with us now from Hong Kong to talk about that story. Hey there.

Andrew Leung: Hi, how are you?

Chiotakis: Doing well. So what's China going to be spending, and building on space exploration in the next few years?

Leung: China has just launched its five year space plan. And it's actually trying to follow in the footsteps of the United States, sort of harking back to the days when the first American was on the moon in 1969. But it's not a massive amount, because China's trying to do it gradually. China's trying to catch up and trying to be a stronger nation, as it were.

Chiotakis: Do you think this is motivated as a way to increase the country's prestige, or is this more about the economy or science and technology programs?

Leung: I don't think it's just prestige, because you look at America's space program -- it did have a lot of very useful spin-off applications in different types of research, and also into industry, into business. So I think that this is very much a way for China to build up its development model as a more advanced nation.

Chiotakis: Andrew Leung, international and independent China specialist. Andrew, thank you.

Leung: You're welcome.