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Published: 21:06, November 30, 2023
Taikonauts’ visit boosts national pride of residents
By Kenneth Li
Published:21:06, November 30, 2023 By Kenneth Li

The warm and joyful atmosphere surrounding the current visit of a delegation of Chinese mainland taikonauts to Hong Kong and then to Macao has fully reflected the huge popularity of the country’s space heroes in the hearts of local residents, especially the younger generation, making the visit a great success in enhancing people’s interest in space science as well as their national identity.

Hong Kong and Macao residents have reasons to be so excited because the two special administrative regions under the “one country, two systems” principle, might soon have their representatives aboard the country’s Tiangong space station, according to Lin Xiqiang, the deputy director general of the China Manned Space Agency. That would bring further great excitement for people of the two SARs.

The central government unprecedentedly announced last year that it had included the two SARs in the fourth batch of taikonauts’ recruitment. Among the dozen or so reserve astronauts selected, for the first time two payload experts will be chosen from Hong Kong and Macao. Payload experts conduct research inside the space station. Lin said the selection has gone through the preliminary and semifinals rounds, with more than 20 individuals, including two candidates from Hong Kong and Macao, entering the final selection stage. 

The decision to open the post of payload expert to Hong Kong and Macao is significant in several ways. It shows that the central government is always backing the SARs with strong support whenever they need better development. It is a powerful rebuttal of the anti-China forces’ accusation that “one country, two systems” has been harming the two SARs, especially Hong Kong. They have been using this political lie to alienate the Hong Kong younger generation from their motherland, which came to a climax with the outbreak of the 2019 violent riots, causing massive damage and serious social divisions in the community.  

The very fact that the SARs’ participation in the payload experts’ selection is on a continual basis has a particular meaning to the teenagers of the two SARs. It means the selection is not a one-off, and the teenagers can have time and opportunities to realize their space exploration dream one day. That would definitely encourage them to pursue their studies and careers in aerospace engineering or related field enthusiastically.  

Actually, the country’s remarkable achievements in space technology in the past three decades have successfully helped build up a strong national pride and identity among all Chinese nationals. In addition, related authorities have also been working diligently to popularize space science. For instance, taikonauts in orbit conduct regular live lectures from the Tiangong space station for tens of millions of students across the country, including those in Hong Kong and Macao, performing interesting experiments, gravity-free exercises and answering questions about living conditions in space. This helps build a positive role model of taikonauts for Chinese teenagers.

Taiwan residents should know that their future lies in the peaceful reunification of the big Chinese family and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The new generations of Taiwan should consider this matter deeply

Further, the rapid development of the country’s aerospace science and the positive image of taikonauts can also inspire the younger generation’s self-motivation and creativity. If that kind of positive attitude can be rekindled and channeled in the right direction, it will surely be a great benefit to the country, and Hong Kong in particular. It is a national strategic plan in the post-pandemic era to speed up Hong Kong’s integration into the country for a new height of development. Some mega projects such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) need the whole-hearted devotion of Hong Kong people to perform an irreplaceable role as a superconnector to facilitate the projects.

Critics may say that that kind of heroism promotion does not do much good to Hong Kong and Macao. However, a country always needs heroes to unite its people, especially those who can bring about national glory. It is a strong firewall against bad foreign influence which always plots to forestall China’s unification by disrupting the law and order of Hong Kong. 

Furthermore, aerospace engineering overlaps with many forms of engineering, such as aviation, automobiles, environmental protection, transportation, medicine, national defense and many more. If more local young scientists and teenagers choose to pursue careers in related fields, it will bring substantial benefits to the two economies. The national space program is a perfect platform for Hong Kong’s and Macao’s young scientists to showcase their talents. Hong Kong’s high internationalized and diversified community can also help the country to deepen international space cooperation in advanced technologies and attract talent.

On the other hand, while many young scientists and teenagers in other countries may envy their counterparts in Hong Kong and Macao as they have the chance to fly to the moon in the near future, aerospace experts on the other side of the Taiwan Strait may have a mixed feeling about this. It is discouraging to see that scientific cooperation and exchanges between the aerospace professionals of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have suffered a setback in recent years because of the escalated separatism of a small group of arrogant and selfish politicians in Taiwan. 

Originally, the relations of aerospace professionals across the Taiwan Strait were on good terms since their communications and exchange started as early as 1995. A breakthrough was made when agricultural seeds from Taiwan were brought to the Shenzhou-V manned spaceship for breeding experiments in 2003. The central government considered including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao when the third round of taikonauts selection started in 2018.

However, the foundation of collaboration and exchange between the two sides in this aspect was shattered as the Democratic Progressive Party under the leadership of Tsai Ing-wen chose a more aggressive separatist path. In contrast to this, Russia, some Asian and African countries and the European Space Agency have maintained good relations with China in the mutual exploration of space. Some European astronauts even received training in China. It is ridiculous and disheartening from a Chinese point of view that while foreign aerospace scientists can work together with their counterparts in China, our blood brothers and sisters in Taiwan cannot just because of the political reasons. The small group of Taiwan separatists who collaborate closely with anti-China forces to resist the peaceful unification of the big Chinese family is jeopardizing the future of the island at the expense of the well-being of 23 million Taiwan people.

In fact, after 30 years of development, Taiwan has built up a complete infrastructure and advanced capabilities for the space industry. Hong Kong and Macao also have strong capabilities in the field of aerospace, particularly in science and engineering. If the four sides across the Strait can collaborate to complement one another, this will be a win-win situation for the big Chinese family.  

Having gone through numerous challenges with strong backing from the central government in the past few years — such as the timely implementation of the national security law on a state level to restore the rule of law and order of the city in 2020, and the prompt rescue from the Chinese mainland in terms of paramedic help to stabilize the situation after the breakdown of the local medical system during the deadly fifth wave of COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 —  most people in Hong Kong have realized that the effectiveness of “one country, two systems” hinges on a strong central government to provide guidelines and support. 

The ruling Communist Party of China has been doing an excellent job over the years in providing national security and development opportunities for the two SARs. The GBA and BRI as well as the rapid development of aerospace science are just some of the endeavors envisioned, pioneered, and carried out by the CCP and they have started bearing fruit. 

Taiwan residents should know that their future lies in the peaceful reunification of the big Chinese family and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The new generations of Taiwan should consider this matter deeply.

The author, a Hong Kong-based freelance writer, is an adviser to the Hong Kong Association of Media Veterans.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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