This theory has been floating around for years, and China has officially denied that it plans to dig up helium-3 on the moon.
Helium-3, you may remember, is a substance rare on Earth but apparently abundant on the powdery surface of the moon. It has energy experts and space enthusiasts excited as a potential source of nuclear fuel.
The People’s Daily Online had a commentary on the moon program this morning, and it quoted extensively the thinking of Ouyang Ziyuan, a geochemist who is in charge of China’s Lunar Exploration Program. It cites Ouyang saying that the moon program will heighten “China’s international prestige and the cohesive power of the Chinese nation.”
Then it delves into the moon’s usefulness to China. The commentary suggests China is, in fact, interested in helium-3 as an energy source. “The output of electricity generated by three tons of helium-3 can satisfy China’s energy consumption output for a whole year,” it says. [Full Text]