One factual correction, China has been launching commercial space satellites from Xichang Sichuan province in the late 1980’s. I know that circa 1989 China had the safest satellite launch program at that time. I haven’t looked into it since then.
Ravaged by famine??? Last serious famine that hit China was IIRC in 1959.
China has reserves in excess of USD200 billion and GDPof USD1.3 trillion. A single trophy office tower in Shanghai can cost a billion dollars, which is the estimate for this spam in a can exercise. Sure there is extreme poverty in China, but one way to alleviate that poverty is by moving up the value added chain of industry.
Even if we all agreed that this is a misplaced priority, I can sure think of some other examples closer to home…