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Chinese Watch First Manned Space Launch with Keen Interest

The vast land of China was in the grip of excitement as people learned about the success of the first manned spaceship launch from TV, Internet websites and radio Wednesday.

"Fantastic!" said Chang Fengyan, a university teacher in Beijing, who happened to turn on her TV, which was showing retrospectively the launch movement. She was almost off her feet as she was watching the rocket rising into the sky with orange flames blaring. "These people are simply great," she repeated.


"Nothing is more exciting than the news of the successful launch! Every Chinese is proud of it," said advertising agent WangYong as he and his colleagues learned the news.


Crowds of people in Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi Province, were looking into the sky, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rocket and the spaceship as word spread that the rocket and spaceship would pass over the area.


In department stores of the city, customers were crowding in front of TV sets at the appliances sales counters as the CCTV showed the launching scene minutes after the launch. When the commander-in-chief announced the success of the launch, applause burst out from among the emotional crowds.


Liu Yu, a Taiyuan citizen, planned to marry sometime next year. But after learning the news, he talked about it with his girlfriend and they decided to hold the wedding ceremony toady as part of the celebration for the event.


"Is there really a human being in that flame shooting thing?" 64-year-old Namgyai in southwest China's Tibet asked. "I used to believe that only the souls of nobles could fly to the sky after they pass away."


He was not convinced until patient explanations by his son. "That's marvelous," he acclaimed.


"Science is really marvelous. Sending a man to the sky? I had never even dreamed of it! " said Namgyai. "A Chinese man has flown into the sky. That's really good luck for the Chinese people."


Learning that the astronaut would return to the Earth after completing the mission, he ran his fingers on the beads in his hand, saying: "I hope our first man in space will return safely. I pray for him."


Topgyal, a Tibetan academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was very excited at the news about the successful launch of the manned Shenzhou V spaceship that made China the third country in the world to send man into space.


"This shows China has edged into the front ranks in the world in science and technology. That's really a pride of the Chinese people," said Topgyal.


Liu Yongding, who used to be a hydrobiology researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, hailed the successful launch of the manned Shenzhou V spaceship as "an epoch-making event."


"That's really fantastic! We all wish a complete success of the space mission and further progress in China's space exploration," said Liu.


Chen Jun, who works with the Central Hospital of the Wuhan Railways Administration in central China's Hubei Province, said he had been tracking the news about Shenzhou V for a long time despite busy schedule.


"That's really encouraging! We feel very proud that China's space program has entered a new stage," said Chen.


"Space has finally opened its doors to the 1.3 billion Chinese people who have for thousands of years been in the grip of Confucianism. What will this bring to us? What impact will it have on our minds and our perceptions of the world? That deserves deeper thought than the success of space technology," said Han Song, a young science fiction writer from Shanghai.


(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2003)

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