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On Sunday, when China celebrated the success of its first spacewalk outside the Xintiangong space station, the country’s leading aerospace company attracted attention online for a very different reason.
The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) encountered strong opposition after news that a Communist Party official of its subsidiary was suspected of targeting two prominent aerospace scientists, including an 85-year-old woman.
The so-called barbaric attack occurred in early June and attracted public attention on Saturday through a report in the state-run magazine China News Weekly. Chinese leaders have repeatedly emphasized the importance of technological innovation and regarded it as the “main battlefield” of competition with the West. Chinese President Xi Jinping personally praised China’s top scientists as “a national treasure, the pride of the people, and the glory of the nation.”
But the shocking fact is that under such circumstances, Chinese scientists can still be trampled on the surface by an unscrupulous Communist Party official who is apparently unpunished. This triggers a mixture of anger, disappointment and shame .
According to official media reports, Zhang Tao, the party secretary and chairman of China Aerospace Investment Holding Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Corporation, attacked him after two scientists rejected his application for recommendation as a member of the Academy of Sciences. A non-governmental organization based in Stockholm.
85-year-old Wu Meirong suffered a spine fracture, 55-year-old Wang Jinnian suffered multiple rib fractures and suffered soft tissue injuries throughout his body. According to reports, after the attack, the two spent a month in the hospital, while Zhang “worked as usual.”
China Aerospace Investment Holdings was called several times Monday morning, but no one answered.
On Chinese social media, many people questioned why the public hid the incident for several weeks and why Zhang did not appear to suffer any consequences for his alleged violent tantrum.
On China’s heavily censored Twitter Weibo, users flooded CASC’s official account, posted angry comments, and demanded a response to the alleged attack. A related tag received more than 130 million page views.
Under pressure, CASC finally issued a short statement Sunday afternoon, admitting that Zhang had hit “after drinking” and announcing his suspension. He did not specify what caused the alleged attack or provide other details, only that the company had dispatched a team to investigate the incident and promised to “treat it seriously based on the results.” Statement
failed to quell public anger. Below the post, the lead comment questioned why CASC decided to suspend Zhang just a month after the incident, and only decided to suspend him after receiving tens of thousands of “likes” in public outrage.
The weeks-long silence surrounding this incident is likely due to the intensification of censorship ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1.
A week after the so-called attack, China successfully sent three astronauts to its space station under construction, a milestone for official Chinese media and millions of people.
Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the party launched a comprehensive campaign to strengthen discipline and punish millions of officials for corruption and misconduct. But Zhang’s brazen attack on scientists revealed a fact that made the party uncomfortable. In reality, some officials still feel that they have the right to exercise power as they please, without dignity and respect for others, and what is worse, they have not really been stopped. .s method.
Chinese scientists and intellectuals have had a tense history with the Communist Party. In 1957, the anti-rightist movement launched by Chairman Mao Zedong resulted in political persecution of hundreds of thousands of intellectuals. Less than ten years later, Chinese writers, scholars, and scientists became the targets of the Cultural Revolution again, and many people were publicly humiliated and violently attacked by the Red Guards.
Even the scientists leading the country’s fledgling space program have not been spared from political chaos. Yao Tongbin, a well-known missile expert, was beaten to death by a mob outside his home. Zhao Jiuzhang, the chief designer of China’s first satellite, committed suicide.
But since the anarchy of the Cultural Revolution and the endless ideological and political struggles of the Mao era, China has come a long way. Allegedly, the beating of these two scientists is contrary to what Xi Jinping claims the new China represents.
Weibo commented: “The Zhang Tao incident revealed a fact: the rule of law is much more difficult than sending a spacecraft to the sky.”