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China fires back after NASA criticism of rocket debris reentry

The Chinese government is firing back at NASA officials who criticized the country's space program following reports of debris from an uncontrolled rocket falling into Earth’s atmosphere and splashing down in the Indian Ocean over the weekend. 

“China has been closely tracking its trajectory and issued statements on the re-entry situation in advance,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, according to The Associated Press. “There has been no report of harm on the ground. China also shares the results of re-entry predictions through international cooperation mechanisms.”

On Saturday, U.S. Space Command confirmed the event and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson blamed China for a failure to “act responsibly and transparently in space.”

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“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations. It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” Nelson said in a statement.

Hua on Monday shot back at Nelson and U.S. officials for what she described as a double standard China is being held to when it comes to space. 

“American media used romantic rhetoric like ‘shooting stars lighting up the night sky,’ ” Hua said. “But when it comes to the Chinese side, it’s a completely different approach.”

Hua said China is "willing to work with other countries including the United States to strengthen cooperation in the use of outer space," but added "we also oppose double standards on this issue."