Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China's manned space program, said Tiangong-2 also aimed to verify technology involved in the construction of the space station.
"It has the basic technological capacity of a space station," Zhou said.
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"Once the space lab mission comes to an end, China will start building our own space station," he said, adding this could start in as early as 2017.
In April 2017, China's first space cargo ship Tianzhou-1 will be sent towards the space lab, providing fuel and other supplies.
China is pouring billions into its space program and working to catch up with the US and Europe.
It hopes to have a crewed outpost by 2022.
China's first space lab, Tiangong-1, was launched in September 2011 and ended transmissions in March this year. It is expected to fall back to Earth in the second half of 2017.
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Beijing sees its military-run space program as symbolizing the country's progress and a marker of its rising global stature.
The nation's first lunar rover was launched in late 2013, and while it was beset by mechanical troubles it far outlived its expected lifespan, finally shutting down only last month.
But for the most part China has so far replicated activities that the US and Soviet Union pioneered decades ago.
As well as building a Chinese space station, it intends to eventually put one of its citizens on the surface of the moon.
It announced in April it aims to send a spacecraft "around 2020" to orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover to explore the surface.
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