Most debris from a Chinese rocket will be burned up on re-entry and is highly unlikely to cause any harm, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has said.

Yesterday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said there was no plan at this point to shoot down the remnants of the large rocket, which is expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend.

The Long March 5B rocket blasted off from China's Hainan island on 29 April.

It was carrying the Tianhe module, which contains what will become living quarters for three crew members on a permanent Chinese space station.

The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the station.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Austin said the hope was the rocket would land in the ocean and that the latest estimate was that it would come down between Saturday and Sunday.

The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid published by the official People's Daily, characterised reports that the rocket is "out of control" and could cause damage as "Western hype".

The situation is "not worth panicking about," it said, citing industry insiders.

The United States has said it is committed to addressing the risks of congestion due to space debris and wants to work with the international community "to promote leadership and responsible space behaviors."