China’s rocket he­roes’ story gets an English edi­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By MEI JIA mei­jia@chi­

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.

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