Washington: Even as its ties with China deteriorates, the most significant challenge faced by Washington is the pace at which Beijing is developing its space technology, according to a top US General.

According to Chinese media, Beijing has been investing heavily in its space program and has made significant progress in recent years. China has made 40 launches this year and seven more are planned later in the year.

Speaking at a press briefing, US Space Force Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman said, "The most significant challenge is the pace in which they [China] are developing all their systems, it is such a broad array of the counter-space capabilities that they are pursuing."

The top US General drew attention to the speed with which China is developing space programs - from theory to practice, with systems already in orbit.

"I think our [US] challenge is going to be matching that pace," Saltzman was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency.

China has heavily increased its overall government funding for space activities in 2020, exceeding only the US.

Despite China ramping up its space research and exploration program, the country spent USD 8.9 billion in space activities, which is very low compared to the USD 48 billion spent by the US.

The US had passed the 'Wolf Amendment' in 2011, which barred China's space agencies from working with NASA, restricting any exchange of information between the American space agency and the China National Space Agency or other Chinese space organisations.