China will construct an international lunar research station at the south pole of the moon alongside Russia.

The China National Space Administration and Russia's Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities will create a permanent lunar base - either on the surface of the moon or in the lunar orbit.

A memorandum of understanding calls for "extensive cooperation" on an international lunar research station described as "a comprehensive scientific experiment base with the capability of long-term autonomous operation, built on the lunar surface and/or in lunar orbit."

The base will be "open to all interested countries and international partners" and put China and Russia at the heart of a new era of international space cooperation. The International Space Station in a low Earth orbit has been housing science exploration astronauts for more than 20 years but is approaching the end of its useful life.

In light of rising Russian-U.S. tensions financial funding for the International Space Station is guaranteed until 2024 only.

The International Space Station is a collaboration between the U.S., Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada. China has therefore pursued initiatives to set up its own space station - with plans to launch the main module into orbit in the next few months.

Crewed missions will follow later this year and work should be finished in 2022. By 2025, China could have the sole working space station if the International Space Station is decommissioned as planned.

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program, said China and Russia would use their expertise in space science, research and development and space equipment and technology.

China had planned to create a long-term human presence on the moon before the collaboration with Russia. The China's space administration is looking at the lunar south pole, presumed to be abundant in resources, as the site with the goal of hosting long-term manned missions after 2036.

By 2045 China plans to be a "world-leading" space power.