Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Film review: Dr. Qian Xuesen


“That the government permitted this genius, this scientific genius, to be sent to Communist China to pick his brains is one of the tragedies of this century…” Grant Cooper, CALTECH appointed attorney in defending Qian Xueshen when he was accused of Communist sympathies.

This is a film I managed to catch on a recent flight, and it was coincidentally apt that I got to watch it whilst streaming through the skies high above. That it comes as at a time as China secures its permanent place in space with the success of the Tiangong mission also resonated. The historical biopic of the recently departed Dr. Qian Xuesen 钱学森 (see Encylopedia Brittanica entry on him here) released in March is the latest in Chinese cultural capital to assert its legitimacy for equity on the world stage.

Important to China as the father of Chinese aerospace, his role of establishing China’s long range ballistic defense program after spending years in the US makes him the quintessential Chinese sojourning Huaqiao hero.

It is something this state-funded piece seizes on as subtext to the world’s most important bilateral relations today. Qiawas a tenured professor at Caltech and helped found its Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). Essentially, this is the academic who blasted both the US and China into the final frontier.

Not unlike its wushu flicks which challenged the Western imperative during its century of humiliation, the film continues in a long line of work painting China’s long road to gain equal footing against the US. Accused of being in league with the communist party during the second Red Scare in the 1950s, Qian’s resolve to return to China is heavily emphasized in the film.

The meta narrative to me, however, reads like an open invitation for its diasporic Chinese sojourners to come home to build up the motherland as it combats a continuing outflow of its brightest talents.

There are two poignant points in this film for me.

First, around midway through, a Taiwanese reporter poses a pointed question in English why Qian, as he prepared to depart the US, did not contemplate going to the Republic of China. The response was blunt and perhaps indicative of the worldview of these state-funded projects. It went along the lines of ‘when asking a question to another Chinese, the language to be spoken was to be Chinese’. In that, he ignored the reporter’s question. Second, was the symbolism of creating a sharp-edged sword to ensure China’s dignity to stand up again. When posed the idea that most scientists in that era loathed using science for aggression, his stance was again poignant. His point made – there is a difference between having no sword, having a sword and electing not to use it.

View the trailer for the film here – this is another must watch to get a peek into the Chinese mind and desire for equal footing.

In some ways, I think the Chinese have for a while surpassed the position for equity on the world stage. Perhaps it is time to remember the virtue of the middle path, but that is for another story.
Advertisements

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Nationalism, Overseas Chinese, Politics, Soft Power, space, Strategy, Technology, The Chinese Identity, U.S.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Pages

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,575 other followers

Pages

East/West headlines of Rising China

East/West headlines of Rising China

About Wandering China

Click to find out more about this project

Support //WC

Support Wandering China now - buy a Tee Shirt!

Be a champ - Support Wandering China - buy a Tee Shirt!

The East Wind Wave

China in images and infographics, by Wandering China

China in images and Infographics, by Wandering China

Wandering China: Facing west

Please click to access video

Travels in China's northwest and southwest

Wandering Taiwan

Wandering Taiwan: reflections of my travels in the democratic Republic of China

Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Click here to view the Wandering China, Resounding Deng Slideshow

Slideshow reflection on Deng Xiaoping's UN General Assembly speech in 1974. Based on photos of my travels in China 2011.

East Asia Geographic Timelapse

Click here to view the East Asia Geographic Timelapse

A collaboration with my brother: Comparing East Asia's rural and urban landscapes through time-lapse photography.

52 Unacceptable Practices AFP AP AsiaOne Australia Automotive Back to China BBC Beijing Consensus Beijing OIympics Bloomberg Bob's Opinion Censorship Charm Offensive China Daily China Dream Chinese Model Chinese overseas Climate Change Collectivism Communications Confucius Corruption Crime Culture Democracy Diaoyu Fishing Boat Incident 2010 Disaster Domestic Growth East China Sea Economics Education Environment Ethnicity European Union Finance Foreign aid Foxconn Suicides 2010 global times Google Cyber-attack 2010 Government & Policy Greater China Great Firewall Green China Hard Power Health History Human Rights Ideology India Influence Infrastructure International Relations Internet japan Lifestyle Mapping Feelings Media Migrant Workers Migration (Internal) military Modernisation Nationalism New Leadership New York Times North Korea Overseas Chinese Peaceful Development People Politics Pollution Population Public Diplomacy Reform Resources Reuters Science Singapore Social Soft Power Sport Straits Times Strategy Taiwan Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦) Technology Territorial Disputes The Age The Chinese Identity The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities Tibet Trade Transport U.S. Uncategorized Xi Jinping xinhua Youtube Yuan

Wandering Planets

Creative Commons License
Wandering China by Bob Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at Wanderingchina.org. Thank you for visiting //
web stats

Flag Counter

free counters
Online Marketing
Add blog to our directory.
%d bloggers like this: