Taikonaut recruitment a boon to HK’s sci-tech development

The country’s unprecedented move to include Hong Kong and Macao scientists in its latest recruitment of taikonauts has not only received applause across the two special administrative regions, with about 120 applications, but also convincingly shown to the world that under “one country, two systems”, the two regions have more opportunities for development.

It’s a strong rebuttal of the West’s accusation that “one country, two systems” has been choking the two regions. Facts speak louder than words. In this case, the fact that Hong Kong and Macao young scientists can join the selection of taikonauts clearly indicates that the central government is indeed providing strong backing of the two regions, offering favorable conditions for their development.

Undoubtedly, it is a piece of heartening news to the two regions’ aerospace and related-field professionals as well as teenagers who long to be spacemen. With the green light given to them to participate in the selection, they know that their space exploration dream shall one day come true, spurring them to pursue their careers and studies in aerospace engineering or related field enthusiastically.

Over the years, scientists of the two regions have been doing some data analysis and scientific research work in their respective universities for the nation’s manned space programs. Their contributions have been highly praised by the central government. The fact that Hong Kong and Macao are included in the selection of two payload specialists, who are mainly responsible for scientific experiments, research and tests during a space mission, is viewed as proof of the scientific levels of the two regions capable of meeting the requirements of the country’s space missions.

The selection is not a one-time action, but on a continual basis, giving the younger generations real excitement that they have time and opportunities to catch up with their dream one day.

Looking back, China’s outstanding achievements in the space technology in the past three decades have successfully helped the country build up a strong national pride and identity among all Chinese nationals. Furthermore, with the central government’s dedicated efforts to popularize space science by means of space science lectures conducted from the Tiangong space station for millions of students across the country, the taikonauts have compatibly become positive role models for Chinese teenagers.

On the other hand, as aerospace engineering overlaps many forms of engineering, the increasing popularity of the related fields in Hong Kong and Macao will bring about rapid development of many industries such as aviation, automobiles, environmental protection, transportation, medicine, national defense and many more, benefiting the two economies substantially in the future.

The chance to join the payload specialist selection is indeed a great driving force to strengthen the new generations’ faith in “one country, two systems”. Feeling pride in the country’s fast development and knowing the abundant opportunities ahead within and beyond the two regions, they shall embrace “one country, two systems” warmly, bringing the two regions to a new dimension of development in the future.

Meanwhile, it is also good to learn that the country has collaborated with Russia, the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as some Asian and African countries in recent years to mutually exploit the space. In fact, some European astronauts have already received training in China and they shall soon fly to the Tiangong space station, according to an agreement reached between the China National Space Administration and the ESA in 2015.

With qualified aerospace experts in Europe, Hong Kong, Macao and perhaps some other countries, too, having the chance to fly to the country’s space station in the near future, it is dispiriting to see the regression of scientific exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in recent years because of political reasons.

The culprit is the escalated separatism of a small group of arrogant Taiwan politicians who have partnered with anti-China foreign forces to try to forestall the peaceful rise of China. This small group of Taiwan separatists has been jeopardizing the future of the island at the expense of the well-being of the 23 million Taiwan people.

In retrospect, scientific collaboration and exchanges between the aerospace professionals of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan started as early as 1995 when the two sides participated in academic exchange activities and plans to cultivate related talents. A breakthrough was made when agricultural seeds from Taiwan were brought to the Shenzhou 5 manned spaceship for breeding experiments in 2003. The central government once thought of including Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao when the third round of taikonauts selection started in 2018.

Nevertheless, the good foundation of collaboration and exchange between the two sides of the Straits has been severely ruined as the Democratic Progressive Party authority under the leadership of Tsai Ing-wen moved on their separatist path. Obviously, the aerospace professionals in Taiwan have viewed the situation with mixed feelings.

Actually, after 30 years of development, Taiwan has built up a complete infrastructure and advanced capabilities for the space industry. If the two sides can work together to complement one another, this will be a win-win situation.

Speaking at the opening session of the 20th CPC National Congress lately, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed: “We have always shown respect and care for our Taiwan compatriots and worked to deliver benefits to them. We will continue to promote economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation across the Straits. …We will encourage people on both sides of the Straits to work together to promote Chinese culture and forge closer bonds.”

The white paper “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era”, published in August, also says, “Peaceful reunification and ‘one country, two systems’ are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question and the best approach to realizing national reunification. … The future of Taiwan lies in China’s reunification, and the well-being of the people in Taiwan hinges on the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

Given the fact that the total economic volume of the Chinese mainland is 22 times larger than that of Taiwan, and seeing the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead for Hong Kong and Macao residents under “one country, two systems” as reflected in the cases of payload specialist selection, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road Initiative, the new generations of Taiwan should have a clearer mind on the matter.

The author is a member of the Hong Kong Association of Media Veterans and a freelance writer.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.