According to CNN, Li Xueyong stated “We hope to take part in activities related to the international space station. If I am not mistaken, this program has 16 countries currently involved and we hope to be the 17th partner."
Currently, the International Space Station is a joint effort of the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the European countries of France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Greece, and Luxembourg. The country of Brazil participates with the ISS through a separate contract. Astronauts to the space station have come from fourteen different countries, along with five space tourists (space participants).
China is rapidly growing its space programs. In 2003, China became the third country (behind Russia and the United States) in sending one of its citizens into space. Through its China National Space Administration, which is equivalent to NASA in the United States, China sent its Shenzhou 5 spacecraft into space on October 15, 2003, with Chinese taikonaut Yang Liwei onboard—its first manned mission. The twenty-one hour mission lifted China into the elite threesome of countries with manned space programs.
China has also recently added a fourth launch center for its launches into space. The iTWire article “China to add 4th launch site: Wenchang Satellite Launch Center” discusses the new Chinese spaceport.
China is also aiming to land a manned mission on the Moon sometime around 2024, with its sights set on a lunar base for exploration of the Moon and future missions to Mars and other celestial bodies.