Skip to comments.China rediscovers technology
Posted on 10/13/2003 1:05:48 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
China's launch of a manned, Earth-orbiting satellite symbolizes a great nation's accelerating return to its normal position of global technological leadership.
Contrary to the stereotype common in the West of pre-modern China as a land of technological stagnation, for most of its history China was one of the leading technological powers of the world.
The great historian of Chinese science and technology, Joseph Needham, found 26 basic technological innovations made in China and subsequently transferred to the West, compared to four innovations made in the West and transferred to China. One of the subway stations in Beijing is decorated with murals celebrating China's "four great inventions": gunpowder, the compass, printing and paper. China is now returning to the position of technological leadership it held throughout most of history.
The Chinese people are immensely proud of their ancient technological achievements and convinced that China's falling-behind the West in this regard over the past several centuries was an aberration. Or, it was the result of vicious Western imperialism that deliberately sought to suppress China.
Pride in high profile and immensely difficult technological achievements such as space exploration are seen by most Chinese as testament to China's reclaiming of its rightful place in the sun.
Some Chinese believe in their hearts that Chinese are really superior to Westerners in terms of basic abilities and see China's growing technological prowess as confirmation of these racial prejudices. Popular appeal is one reason why the Chinese government is able to invest vast sums in an ambitious space program, even though China faces immense social needs. Achievements in space exploration also allow the Chinese government to claim it is blotting out the past century of "humiliation" of China.
A large part of China's space technology came from Russia. In the 1950s, China's acquired basic rocket technology from its Soviet ally. It also acquired substantial assistance from Qian Xuesen, a Cal Tech-trained physicist who worked on rocket development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States during the 1940s. These sources facilitated China's effort to launch its first satellite in 1970. Then when Beijing and Moscow began restoring friendly cooperation in 1989-1990, space was identified as an area with great potential for cooperation. Over the next decade China basically bought and cloned the former Soviet space program.
Assimilation of foreign technology is not, however, a reason to disparage China's achievements in space. The United States space program in the 1950s and 1960s drew deeply on German technology. The key to technological prowess is not relying only on your own resources, but scouring the earth to find and assimilate the most advanced knowledge available anywhere in the world. After a long period of self-satisfied "self-reliance" under both traditional and Red emperors, China has finally learned this lesson.
Nationalist Chinese writers talk about a Chinese colony on the moon and exploration of the other planets. China's economic rise will probably provide the government the fiscal resources necessary to pursue these dreams.
The United States seems to have lost interest in vigorous space exploration. Perhaps a good dose of Chinese competition will rekindle American enthusiasm. In any case, the United States will have to learn to live with a China that is restoring its long-lost position of global technological leadership.
John Garver is a professor of international affairs at Georgia Tech.
Amongst other interests I have an engineering bent. I have been thinking about the Shuttle for thirty years, nearly, and my unhappy conclusion, well supported by numerical reasoning, is that the Shuttle on the concept level is deeply and hopelessly flawed. An accurate analogy is that making a space craft like an airplane is like making an airplane like a steam locomotive. Fine engineering has made this misguided pastiche, this kluge, this utterly unrealistically concieved misapplication of effort, function at all. I have been amazed for years that the tiles have been made to stay on during re-entry, much less the leading edge carbon-carbon hasn't broken or burned up before recent times. Besides many other things, why spend $10,000 per pound to lift the 200,000 pound Shuttle into orbit ($2,000,000,000) when you are just going to fly it back to Earth? Use the resources for Space stuff, not Earth stuff, for Heaven's sake.
What I hear from the military is that they are making a serious attempt to bypass the NASA roadblock to space, rethinking the whole thing from scratch, and building the heavy lift capacity at an affordable price that we so vitally require. There is a bunch of other military stuff that I "read in the tea leaves". I deal almost entirely with the public info, but am not totally out of the loop. Many good things are being done and our money is being spent very intelligently. All services are competing to show that they are the smartest and best, and of course, they all are!!
Be of good hope, support our people, hang tough, fight the Left stubbornly and efficiently (Schumer, of all people, has been coming out against American Wahabbism strongly, time to give the gun control nut a hand and show him us 2nd Amendment folks are nothing to be feared but instead respected and even liked - the enemy of your enemy is always, always, your friend,(but of course watch your wallet and silverware!!) and our boys will have the Cavalry ready in time to save the day.
I see you are a comrade in arms. Victory!
Agreed. Another job that needs doing.
Agreed. Another job that needs doing.
A good job of history telling. One hopes for a Sputnik 2 here as well.
"Be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents."
I fear Americans have abandoned seeking the truth, abandoned wisdom, and no longer see that "The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord." Our hope is in Him, as "All things are possible in God." It is impossible to pray and study scripture and instruct and be instructed in the Way to excess. There are hard times coming, as He will not soften hearts in the wholesale fashion needed to fix the situation rapidly, as He has other plans. This is reliable information, came after much intense prayer.
My tagline is not metaphor. The Beats of Hell are real, and march against us.
By God and Saint Michael! Victory!
The first manned flight is expected to be in space for only 90 minutes. But after separation, the orbital module — with its own propulsion system for autonomous flight — will stay in space for up to eight months. The orbital modules of Shenzhou 3 and 4 had an ELINT capability that included three antennas aimed at Earth to determine the source of ultra-high frequency emissions, plus other antennas designed to detect and locate radar transmissions. The Soviets used similar transmissions to monitor movements of U.S. Navy ships.
It may be true that China's astronauts will not engage in military activities, at least initially, but the orbital module they leave behind is loaded with equipment that will autonomously conduct surveillance from space. Data are downloaded electronically when the spacecraft is over China. The Shenzhou 3 and 4 orbital modules were China's first ELINT satellites. They have enabled Beijing to track U.S. naval movements since March 2002.
Last June, the French defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, proposed sharing sensitive military technology with Beijing. She called for a softening of the arms embargo imposed on the country after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
The Chinese already have the world's second biggest defence budget, £40 million annually, but they have to rely on outdated weaponry bought from Russia and Ukraine.
Yesterday's white paper said the ever-closer military ties rendered the EU embargo a relic from the last century.
China's efforts to court Brussels reflect a new mood of respect for the EU across Asia. India is also rushing to upgrade its ties with Europe, recruiting extra staff to lobby EU officials and MEPs.***
Obvious why they forced down our Navy Elint flight, going so far as to lose a fighter and pilot. Plausible deniability that it was an "accident", "unintentional", etc., Ha Ha.
Be fun to work on current Elint countermeasures. Got some ideas, let me loose!!
The French have been doing this sort of thing for a long time. Richeleau stoked the fires of the Thirty Years war, helping the weaker side in alteration, having Wallenstein killed, etc., in order for France to be pre-eminent in Europe afterward.
If we are willing to learn faster than they are we will win out. Have your children and grandchildren of sound character study Chinese language and culture, both for their prosperity and for the protection of our people. My oldest daughter is taking the most intensive Chinese program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a program in the top ten nationally. I expect she will spend a year if not more at Peking University.
If I had my way I would have the government go to Bruce Schneier of Counterpane for overall security analysis. He is the best there is. The Feds do staff from people in his field, and Schneier has a stellar reputation amongst all the folks in it. Still, always get the best man you can afford if the job must be done right!
But to win we have to play the game, especially in our hearts and minds, as Lombardi taught it.
As far as the Chinese team, to continue the metaphor, I see weaknesses in their defense and offense. Their "internal" problems are severe and can be effectively exploited. Bush is doing his usual fine job.
Boy, George Bush is something else!! What a quarterback!! Hall of Famer, at least!! Metaphor aside, President Bush plays a very, very deep game with stunning skill and persistance. I can see something of what he is doing and have worked hard to do so.
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