Shenzhou-9: national glory, or flight of fancy?


On June 16, China’s fourth manned space mission, the Shenzhou-9 capsule, made a successful launch from the Jiuquan spaceport. The three-person crew of Shenzhou-9 included China’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang. The launch was hailed by Chinese media as an overwhelming success. Some Chinese on social media, however, questioned spending on prestige-building endeavors in space when China faces pressing inequalities on the ground. In the following cartoon by artist Ah Ping (阿平), shared widely on Sina Weibo this week, a bedraggled teacher in a clearly dilapidated rural school excitedly explains to his students that the successful launch of Shenzhou-9 is a victory for China, even as the students’ own condition tells the story of another China left behind. The teacher holds up a copy of People’s Daily and says: “With the successful launch of Shenzhou-9, our mother country’s space endeavors have taken a giant leap forward. I’d like all of you students to write a commentary about this!.”

A user from Shandong who shared the cartoon on Sina Weibo wrote: “This cartoon isn’t bad at all . . . What will the flight of Shenzhou-9 really give the ordinary people of China?”

Readers can follow more of the conversation HERE.

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