Has China’s string of space successes, including the Shenzhou-9 crew’s recent rendezvous with the Tiangong-1 orbiting lab, ignited a U.S.-China space race? No, according to U.S. experts on Chinese space activities quoted in a Space Policy Online report.

Kevin Pollpeter of Defense Group Inc. gave China credit for “hitting on all cylinders” over the past 10 years with a broadly based space program encompassing civil and military objectives, but said Beijing “is not out to eat our lunch – yet.”

Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation said that if China is “racing with anyone, it’s with Japan and India,” and it is “a marathon not a sprint.” The United States and China are “not racing, but staring at each other warily,” Cheng said.

Leslee Gilbert of Van Scoyoc Associates said that China is “not leading, but following,” and “will have to do something new to get Americans’ attention,” perhaps building a base on the Moon.