The Chinese government has been looking for an interstellar expedition that would be high profile and put its on explorers on the map up there with the very active and high profile expeditions being undertaken by NASA, the Japanese, Russians & Europeans.
While the Chinese have proved themselves extremely capable at rapid colonisation with their first colony, they are looking at something well beyond the scope of current thinking, and more ambitious than NASA’s Above Disc observer mission (travelling above the galactic disc to better observe the galactic core bulge and distant parts of this galaxy and beyond.
The Chinese have set their sights on a long range mission to the Smith Cloud, a huge cloud of gas approaching the Milky Way at a speed of around 193 miles per second.
The Smith Cloud is in intergalactic space and was thought to be originally ejected from the Galaxy around 70 million years ago. It has been observed since the 1960s and since the 21st century was determined to have a chemical composition similar to Sol - the right mix of gas suitable for Sol like star formation - something it is expected to trigger new star formation when it collides with the denser galactic rim around 30 million years from now. Given the cloud is over 9800 light years long and with its density it is expected to trigger the formation of over two million new stars and be a microcosm of events that might be similar to a bigger galactic collision.
The Chinese also wonder if the Smith Cloud could be a location that a Kuetques ship may have decided to target, given what they have gleaned from the Kuetques that settled in the Stotatl Empire. The Chinese are hoping peaceful relations and cooperation on such ancestry exploration with Empire Kuetques might help alleviate the current political tensions between the Empire and the Terran Alliance. Failing that, such cooperation helps them gather more scientific data on bass cloud formations, manned exploration of such clouds, and even possible commercial applications of harvesting resources found in such clouds.
The timeframes and distances involved are currently beyond human reconciliation at the moment. But the Chinese believe missions over the next decade to deploy long range observatories (several hundred light years from Earth) to monitor the cloud and begin plotting likely hyperdrive routes for future missions will let them eventually plan an ultra long distance manned mission in several decades time once a supply line of outpost can be constructed. The Chinese also hope that advances in hyperdrive flight can be made, especially since proof of longer range systems exist as evidenced by the Andorran Ancient hyperdrives. Given most Earth nations are co-operating to advance the technology further, the Chinese feel confident the technology will arrive to allow for the mission to proceed, but in the meantime they extend the reach of their outposts and refine manned interstellar long range missions, while making valuable contributions to astrophysics along the way.