As a Chinese spacecraft was put on its path to attempt the country's first docking mission, a feat achieved by Soviet Union years back, questions were raised about its relevance and whether it was appropriate for China to spend heavily on space technology when "money is needed elsewhere".
The Shenzhou-8 module, successfully fired into space on Tuesday, is a step towards enabling China establish its first space station.
"The docking test between Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 (to be accomplished in the next two days) is a brave step. But the former Soviet Union took that step more than 30 years ago,"
state-run Global Times said in its editorial on Tuesday.
"Furthermore, the diameter of China's carrier rockets and their relevant carrying capacity lag behind America and Russia," the editorial added.
The two were first steps for China to build its manned space station by 2020 and it is much smaller than that of the Mir space lab currently being operated by US and Russia.
"China hasn't experienced major setbacks in the development of manned spaceflight technology, and China has high expectations for the future of space technology. But China's space projects are imitating America's and Russia's," it said.
"The strategic environment for China to develop space technology is unlike what existed during the Cold War. The US and Russia could take risks for political goals regardless of security, while China now needs to strike a balance between adventure and safety," it said.
It said in China human lives were the priority today and the absolute social support the US and the former Soviet Union received for space development will not appear again.
"Money is needed elsewhere, and appears to be more urgent than space technology," it said.
"It is impossible for a destitute China to go to outer space, but without the support of strategic tools, it cannot walk far. China's future is destined to be entangled by all kinds of demands and goals. But they need to be well-balanced," it said.