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Yang Liwei instills more national self-confidence
( 2003-10-23 23:46) (Xinhua)

China's first manned space flight has given the nation a new sense of self confidence and served as an inspiration to younger generations, social commentators believe.

Astronaut Yang Liwei, 38, became an instant national hero after his solo orbit of the earth in the Shenzhou-5 space capsule this month and his name was even registered as brand and Internet domain names.

"Yang's 21-hour space journey showed that our country has begun to 'fly', 54 years after Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of New China, declared the Chinese people had 'stood up'," said one e- mail on the xinhuanet.com website.

"Yang Liwei is a first-rate individual who displayed the great work of Chinese scientists in space," said Yu Guoming, a professor of People's University of China.

Yang, who notched up 1,350 flying hours as a fighter pilot, underwent five years of rigid physical, psychological and technical training and eventually completing more than 200 operations in the his spaceflight.

"I regard Mr. Yang as a hero," said Yu.

In his opinion, the spaceflight was a success for Yang and a collective achievement of all the scientists and technologists related to the program, which indicated the comprehensive capability of China's economy, technology, national defense and its rallying force.

"What the astronaut gave the country was not just an instant feeling of pride, but more confidence that China can do whatever other countries can do," Yu said.

China detonated its first atomic bomb 39 years ago, and a hydrogen bomb three years later. Shortly after, it sent its first man-made earth satellite into space.

In 1992, China started a manned spaceflight program, in which Shenzhou rockets ventured into space four times from 1999 to 2002.

"China doesn't need idolatry any longer, but needs its youth to dedicate themselves to science," Yu said.

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