From Inter Press Service, via Asia Times:
As much as Chinese leaders hope that a leap of nationalistic pride for completing the space mission would help assuage popular discontent over social injustice and corruption, they feel there is a need to justify the expenditure.
Despite an economy that is expected to grow 9.2% this year, China is still home to millions of poor. Official statistics put the number of people living in absolute poverty, or with annual per capita income of less that 668 yuan at 26 million.
The launch of China’s second space mission comes on the heels of an annual Communist Party meeting, which called for “social fairness” and promised to combat the gap between the urban rich who have benefited most from China’s 20-year economic boom and its vast poor majority in the countryside.
See also “As China Plans Moon Landing, Millions Still Struggle to Survive” from Bloomberg.