The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported the asteroid encounter with 4179 Toutatis in the December 15, 2012 article "Chinese space probe flies by asteroid Toutatis".
The article states, "China's space probe Chang'e-2 has successfully conducted a maneuver in which it flew by the asteroid Toutatis, about seven million km away from the Earth."
It adds, "The flyby was the first time an unmanned spacecraft launched from Earth has taken such a close viewing of the asteroid, named after a Celtic god."
The encounter of Chang'e 2 with the 5-kilometer-long (3-mile-long) asteroid began at 16:30:09 Beijing Time (08:30:09 GMT) on December 13th, according to the Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND).
Only four countries or organizations have successfully made close encounters with asteroids. China is now the forth country to accomplish this feat.
The three countries and one organization are: the United States (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], with such missions as Dawn and NEAR Shoemaker), the European Union (European Space Agency [ESA] with Rosetta), Japan (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA] with Hayabusa), and China (China National Space Administrtion [CNSA] with Chang'e).
The NBC News article "New milestone for China: Probe snaps close-ups of asteroid Toutatis" provides additional information on the mission to the asteroid, and a video of the asteroid when it was approximately 7 million kilometers (4.3 million miles) away from the Earth, its closest approach to Earth in recent years.
The December 15, 2012 NBC News article states, "Toutatis is a near-Earth object that's big enough to cause a mass extinction if it were to hit our planet — but fortunately, it isn't projected to come all that near in the foreseeable future."
And, "This week it passed by Earth at a minimum distance of 4.3 million miles (7 million kilometers). That provided scientists with an opportunity to study the peanut-shaped space mountain at a relatively close but totally safe distance."