China’s rocket heroes’ story gets an English edition
China’s national spirit has become a focus of publishing recently.
The Untold Story of China’s First A-Bomb, H-Bomb and Orbiting Satellite, written by veteran journalist Dong Sheng — the pen name for 89-yearold Li Xiangyi — about the “Two-Bombs and One Satellite” triumph, is being translated into English by Foreign Language Press and is set for publication in 2019.
“Dong Sheng is a friend in real life to many of the heroes who completed the feat. His perspective is valuable for the book,” Cao Yun, the editor of the book, tells China Daily.
Cao says the book is such a passionate retelling of the story that readers will brim with pride.
“I’m also amazed by how the heroes’ family members supported them wholeheartedly,” she says.
The book is an abridged version of the three-volume Chinese original. Dong Sheng edited the text himself to offer an essence of the long journey to English-language readers around the world.
“The project itself was a representation of the country’s national strength. Its final realization, as the book shows, is the result of Chinese peoples’ spirit that runs in its nation’s veins: to not fear hardship and to have the courage to invent and create,” Hu Kaimin, deputy editor-inchief, says.
“It offers to the global audience the material to better understand China’s national spirit and the nation’s current path of development.”
To a Peking University graduate surnamed Song, who majored in nuclear physics and is currently working as a nuclear safety inspector, the stories of Qian Xuesen and Deng Jiaxian are about how talented people have devoted all they have to the country they love.
“They made all of their breakthroughs from scratch. It was led by a deep love for their country. Dormant for almost a century, suddenly China had clear path to follow and a ray of hope to light the way. These talented people felt obliged to seize the opportunity, follow that path and help their country rise again,” Song says.
Song also notes that the project was a hugely complicated one, not simply an accumulation of investment or personnel, but more about technology and management.
“Everyone involved — the decision maker, the organizer and the participants — were just fantastic. They completed projects that, in the 1960s, only the most industrially advanced countries had achieved.”
Song can recite the titles published for the “bombs and satellite” heroes, including a catalogue of key figures, a biography of Deng Jiaxian written by his wife, an album of Qian Xuesen as well as his selected articles, works and biography.
A TV series entitled Those Years When We Were Young, aired by Beijing Satellite Television this year, was inspired by the heroes’ stories. Additionally, an adaptation of The Second Handshake, the 1970s bestselling novel by Zhang Yang, aired in 2013. While the main plotline is fictional, it is heavily based on the facts and events surrounding the development of China’s nuclear program.
The touching and inspiring story of the scientific heroes can also be found in children’s literature.
Published last year by Daylight Publishing House, The Undersea Tunnel by Yang Zhijun follows a boy named Yuanyuan and his journey of selfgrowth as he gradually understands how much his parents, older sisters and other family members have devoted to the progress of the A-bomb and H-bomb.
In March, President Xi Jinping stressed that the Chinese national spirit is developed from years of hard work, noting that, throughout history, the four key elements are creativity, an ability to toil, being united, and being able to realize dreams.
An upcoming book, Letters Alive: Season Two, published by China Citic Press, stands as an evidence of this.
Featuring Chinese letters from as early as 93 BC to 2017, the book expresses Chinese people’s concern, love, patriotism and emotions and highlights their suggestions to make the country better.
Based on a hit TV program, the 49 selected letters are categorized into eight themes. Senders and recipients include emperors, celebrities, historical figures and writers.
Wang Yeyun, editor of the book, says that the book contains letters that are beautifully written, which represent a broader picture of China over the course of 2,000 years.
“The most important thing is that through the details and the words, we see Chinese people from different eras share something in common: their tastes, emotions, attitudes toward hardship, aesthetics and their moral principles,” Wang says.
A letter Sima Qian sent to his friend in 93 BC tells of his resolve to finish his history book despite having been castrated, imprisoned and sentenced to death.
Another letter in the book from 89 BC is by the emperor, Han Wu, who expresses regret for leading his people into war and hardship.
Among the famous letters highlighted by Wang is the one Lin Juemin wrote to his wife, Chen Yiying, before his sacrifice during the 1911 Revolution in April that year.
“My dearest Yiying, seeing this letter is like meeting me,” Lin writes. He tells his wife she must have known of his death upon receiving the letter.
The book offers brief introductions of the couple, background, interpretations and reviews to help readers get a better sense of how a hero chooses to die for his country, although he cherishes his wife and family.
“I was wrong that I didn’t tell you about my true aspiration,” he writes. “I fear that you would have worried for me. I have hundreds of reasons to choose to die for my country, but I could not bear that you’d be sad for my sacrifice.
“I was lucky to marry you but unlucky to be born in today’s China. I just can’t simply enjoy my life and stay out of all of this.”
The rest is history.
TheUntoldStoryofChina’s FirstA-Bomb,H-Bomband OrbitingSatellite (top) by Dong Sheng and TheUndersea Tunnel (above) by Yang Zhijun are among the titles that tell stories about Chinese scientists.