BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese taikonauts
(astronauts) may start a branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in space,
said the country's first taikonaut Yang Liwei.
China now has a 14-strong astronaut team. The team
members, including Yang himself, are all CPC members.
"If China has its own space station, the taikonauts
on mission will carry out the regular activities of a CPC branch in space in the
way we do on earth, such as learning the Party's policies and exchanging
opinions on the Party's decisions," said Yang, a delegate to the on-going CPC
national congress in Beijing.
"If we establish a Party branch in space, it would
also be the 'highest' of its kind in the world," said Yang, who is also deputy
director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.
According to the CPC Constitution, a grass-root CPC
organization should be established where there are three or more CPC members.
The latest official figure shows that China has more than 73 million CPC members
and about 3.6 million grass-roots CPC organizations.
"Like foreign astronauts having their beliefs, we
believe in Communism, which is also a spiritual power," said Yang. "We may not
pray in the way our foreign counterparts do, but the common belief has made us
more united in space, where there is no national boundary, to accomplish our
China successfully sent Yang into orbit on the
Shenzhou V spacecraft in 2003, and two years later, taikonauts Fei Junlong and
Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on the Shenzhou VI.
Earlier media reports say the Shenzhou VII is
expected to carry three taikonauts in 2008 and the taikonauts may perform their
first spacewalk during the flight.
"We will see more international cooperation in space
in the future and the different beliefs of taikonauts will not be a 'trouble'
for the cooperation," said Yang.
"Cooperation is the inevitable trend of the
development of the world's space industry and Chinese taikonauts will also
participate in international operations like peace-keeping, environment
protection and rescue in space, which require our taikonauts to increase their
sense of cooperation and responsibilities as members of a global village," he
Yang's center has been working with the Aerospace
School of the Beijing-based Tsinghua University since 2006 to provide
masters-level degree training for the taikonauts.
"New courses include the law of space, the history of
aviation and others on the cultures of different countries," said Yang.
In addition, the taikonauts have been learning
English and Russian.
"Now, it's no problem for us to communicate with
foreign colleagues in English and Russian," he said.