20 July 2019
An interesting read is this article from 23 April 2016 which outlines the early efforts and the political context of the beginnings of China's space programme.
"In 1957 and 1958, the Soviet Union and the United States each launched their first satellites, officially starting a space race. Mao Zedong was quick to pronounce, "We too shall make satellites." Members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences scrambled to turn those words into reality. They aimed to launch their first probe in 1960. Publicly, few at the time deemed the goal far-fetched. But it was the Great Leap Forward, a period of exaggerated agricultural and industrial ambitions."