A question is whom the Chinese are in a race with? India? Japan? After all, a one-horse race isn't a race at all.
Everybody. Anybody. Nobody.
I get the impression that their program is in large part because they see certain desirable goals, and are working on reaching those goals, irrespective of whatever anyone else does. They think very long term.
I don't know how much it's a nationalistic pride thing (which is where the 'race' aspects typically come into play). The Chinese are going through a pretty big nationalistic pride thing these days, and that might be a factor in their program, but I don't have a good sense for how big a factor that is for their decision-makers.