- Language Tips
A model of an alien attracts visitors at a recent exhibition featuring space science in Beijing. An increasing number of UFO sightings have been reported in China since 2011. Kuang Linhua / for China Daily
A youngster faces up to the possibility of extraterrestrial life at the Beijing exhibition. Kuang Linhua / for China Daily
Photographer Wu Chunyan snapped this unidentified flying object in Fenghuang Mountain near Harbin, Heilongjiang province in early July. Provided to China Daily
Rumors of UFO sightings and aliens visiting this planet seem to be increasing, report Cui Jia and Wu Wencong in Beijing.
After 17 years of hard work, Xiang Kuansong has finally completed the "alien research station" he has been building in his village in Mayang county, Hunan province. The 79-year-old said he was told to build it by two beings from another planet.
"Don't be afraid. We are not ghosts or god. We are people from another planet who want to help you," the aliens allegedly told Xiang in Chinese.
Xiang's research station has none of the radio dishes and high-tech equipment that are usually associated with the search for extraterrestrial life. In fact, it looks more like a traditional Chinese temple, with a sign at the entrance that reads: "The harmonious way to a foreign planet".
The retired soldier said he first met the two aliens from the planet of "Dongsheng" in the late 1980s. They are about 1.95 meters tall and visit him quite often, wearing clothes that make them invisible but he can see them and communicate with them. The two "Dongshengians" asked him to build the station so they could have a place to rest during their trips to other planets, and so far he has spent 200,000 yuan ($31,470) on their way station.
Inside there is a concrete model of a saucerlike spaceship, and stone tablets marking the spots where Xiang says the aliens talked to him are scattered around the compound.
Although the other villagers believe Xiang is crazy, he just smiles and ignores their taunts.
But even some of those who believe that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe pour scorn on those who claim to have been visited by aliens.
"I always turn my back on people who claim that they have seen aliens. Most of them have mental health problems," said Zhou Xiaoqiang, secretary-general of the Beijing UFO Research Organization, which was founded in 1983 and now has more than 100 members.
"If aliens visited earth, it doesn't make sense they would not make themselves known to all of us. These stories of meeting aliens are just unbelievable,' he said.
An increasing number of UFO sighting have been reported in China since 2011, but according to Zhou, such sightings are fueled by the media.
"People read about mysterious things or see television reports about such things and it fires their imagination," he said.
"The media have been reporting supposed UFO sightings for the past three or four years and they always mystify the incidents to grab people's attention. Meanwhile, people have become more interested in unsolved phonomena - I think it has something to do with the 2012 end of the world theory," said Zhou, who has been studying UFO sightings for more than 20 years.
Also, some people still try to manipulate others by claiming they are in contact with aliens, he said. "In the old days, such people would say that they could see and talk to ghosts. Nowadays, its aliens."
Zhou said the mission of his team is to simply identify what it is people have seen when there has been a UFO sighting.
"We investigate the circumstances and analyze the evidence. We are more like detectives," he said.
The Beijing UFO Research Organization has received 14 detailed reports of UFO sightings in Beijing so far this year. All of them have been identified as kites with lights, aircraft or insects.
According to Zhou, the majority of UFO sightings are reported during public holidays in big cities or scenic spots.
Zhu Jin, curator of the Beijing Planetarium, also believes intelligent life probably does exist elsewhere in the universe, but says that most "sightings" of UFOs have nothing to do with aliens from another planet.
"Chinese people love to associate UFOs with alien spaceships. But all UFO sightings can be explained by natural phenomena, man-made objects, illusions or hoaxes. Aliens might not even need a spaceship to travel to earth."
In the most recent UFO sighting to grab the public's attention, Li Hui told the media of the UFO she saw at Fenghuang Mountain, a scenic spot in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.
On the afternoon of July 8, Li, a local tourist, claimed she had seen a flying object faintly glowing on the opposite mountain when she finished posing for photos at one of the viewing platforms. She said the object had already disappeared when she took off her sunglasses for a clearer view, but its image had been caught on camera.
Most media showed a cropped version of the photo, which showed a glowing oval with two bright "wings". But the original photo, which was obtained by a reporter from Harbin Daily, shows that Li is the subject of the photo and the "glowing" object is on the left side of the photo.
On July 13, five days after the incident, Xi Wang, a doctoral candidate in bioscience at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, posted a photo of a hoverfly, which was clearly similar to Li's UFO.
Xi told China Daily that considering her major and personal interests, she is very familiar with the flying posture of the insect.
"It looks more like sensationalizing the scenic spot to me," said Xi. "I understand UFO fans' enthusiasm, and personally I also believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life in such a big universe, but we need to investigate and analyze every incident carefully before coming to a conclusion."
Other netizens also pointed out that judging from the size of the object in the photo, if it really was an alien spaceship more people would have noticed it as it would have been about 1 kilometer long.
But despite all the doubts, UFO researchers and enthusiasts rushed to Fenghuang Mountain, because this is not the first time the mountain has been linked with UFOs and extraterrestrial beings. It is known as China's Roswell because of the many UFO sightings that have been reported there.
Loving the alien
In June 1994, a local farmer claimed he had seen a shining white "metal monster" when he was out picking wild plants on the mountain. Meng Zhaoguo became famous throughout the country after he claimed he'd had sex with a female alien three times. Once at the landing site and twice at his house the same night. The alien then told him that she would have his child once she returned to her planet.
Meng, now 45, later told local governmental officials that about a month after his amorous adventures with the alien, he was invited to her spacecraft, where a male extraterrestrial spoke to him in his dialect.
"Sixty years from now, the son of a farmer from the Earth will be born on our planet," the alien told him.
Since then the mountain has been a popular destination for UFO enthusiasts.
"There is nothing wrong with using UFO sightings to attract tourists. It might even be a good thing because it might make people more interested in exploring the unknown," said Zhou Xiaoqiang of the Beijing UFO Research Organization.
But Wang Sichao, a scientist at the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, which is run by Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that people should not be so quick to dismiss all sightings of UFOs as illusions or publicity ploys. He believes that there have been more than a dozen genuine sightings of alien spacecraft in China.
He files unexplained UFO sightings into two categories: those that lack details, so that it is difficult to say what they really are, and those that are detailed, but they still can't be explained. These, he says, could be genuine sightings of alien spaceships.
"People should not underestimate the power of aliens. Although there is no evidence that they are harmful to people," he said.
Contact the reporters at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
(China Daily 08/23/2012 page1)