Coming just weeks after President Joe Biden's top space official set out a similar timetable for new American lunar exploration, the comments set up the possibility of dueling missions between the two of the world's best-financed space powers.
While China has made no secret of its desire to launch crewed lunar missions, the optimistic outlook from Chinese Academy of Sciences member Ye Peijian raises the possibility of an accelerated timetable to match the Americans.
"As long as the technological research for manned moon landing continues, and as long as the country is determined, it is entirely possible for China to land people on the moon before 2030," Ye told state broadcaster CCTV, according to a report on Sunday from the official Xinhua News Agency.
Ye was the chief designer of China's first lunar probe, the Chang'e-1, a robotic spacecraft that orbited the moon in 2007 and hit the surface in 2009.
Ye's interview follows an announcement by NASA chief Bill Nelson on the administration's plan to work with Elon Musk's SpaceX to return to the moon with a crewed mission, possibly in the second half of the decade.
The Trump administration made lunar exploration a priority, setting an aggressive 2024 deadline for NASA's Artemis program to send U.S. astronauts to the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.