Source – Newsweek, July 2 and 9 double issue, page 8,, 2012
So it seems a wider international audience is getting a healthy dose of Liu Yang, China’s little master stroke to fan the flames of public imagination in the second largest news weekly from the US. A public relations chess move a few games ahead, perhaps? And on page 8 too, a number the Chinese value as prosperous. Titled Liu Yang: China sends a woman to the final frontier, the piece by Melinda Liu is one of few positive China stories that gets international attention nowadays.
This Newsweek report reveals that while China’s first taikonaut Yang Liwei’s 2003 flight was not broadcast live, more than 250 media outlets were at the remote Gobi desert to watch blastoff. The move to have a woman on board, it is reported was to also fulfill expectations of the public on top of the fundamental aim of advancing human spaceflight. If China’s aim was to be on equal footing as the US, then this may be one area where it has done better already.
For decades China was third behind the US and Russia in the rocket race. So, the Chinese have come a long way since the successful launch of the Dong Feng 1 东风 guided rocket launch in 1960. As the rise of China coincides with the power dilution of these two cold war icons, an opening seems ripe for China’s grand entrance; and one with tones of gender equivalence one, 52 years later at that at a time the US retires its shuttle fleet.
Next year, Hainan Island will also feature China’s new launch site, one modeled after NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dubbed the ‘Hawaii of China’ for its surf, sand and beaches tourists will be able to, for the first time in Chinese history observe future launches. In the past, Mao hid the middle kingdom’s launch facilities far from detection by having them deep in the hinterland.
Whatever narrative you are being sold, just remember the Chinese have never been one go showhand with their intents; but for a clue – this one is most poignant. “If China does not make its mark in space, it’ll cede control of space in the future.” Zhong Dajun, head of the China Civil Economic Observation Research Center.
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