HONORING A COMRADE
The late Chinese scientist and defector Qian Xuesen — who U.S. intelligence agencies said "played a leading role in the U.S. missile program prior to 1950 and [was] one of the world's leading aerodynamicists" — won lavish praise from Chinese Communist Party leaders in early December on 100th anniversary of his birth.
A new library bearing Qian's name was opened in Shanghai's Jiaotong University to mark the celebration. Communist Party chief Hu Jintao issued a special statement Dec. 11 that offered glowing praise for Qian as the father of China's strategic nuclear missile forces and space programs.
The Shanghai ceremony included: Li Changchun, a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee; Liu Yandong, also a member of the Politburo; Yuan Guiren, China's education minister; and Gen. Wang Hongrao, chief of the army's General Armament Department. They, too, issued similar statements glorifying Hu's statement and "Comrade Qian" for the indispensable role he played in developing China's nuclear and space programs.
Qian was born in China and studied mechanical engineering in the United States during the mid-1930s. Eventually, under the tutelage of Theodore von Karman of the California Institute of Technology, Qian saw his career take off. He became one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1943. After World War II, Qian was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps and assigned to investigate Germany's wartime rocket research. He interrogated Adolf Hitler's rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun.
After Soviet-backed communist forces achieved a sweeping takeover of mainland China in late 1949, the FBI investigated Qian and discovered connections to the communist underground. He lost his security clearance and access to secrets. After five years of legal and diplomatic negotiations, the U.S. government agreed to let Qian go back to communist China in 1955 in exchange for the return of captured U.S. pilots from the Korean War.
Qian instantly became Mao Zedong's favorite scientist and was placed high in the party's hierarchy throughout his post-U.S. years. He unfailingly supported Communist Party policies, including Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward modernization gambit in the late 1950s that killed tens of millions of Chinese.
Qian's major contribution to China was his leadership role in developing Beijing's strategic rocketry and space programs.
In the special statement marking the occasion, Mr. Hu urged the nation "to diligently learn from Comrade Qian Xuesen for his political character marked by his love for the [Chinese Communist] Party and the country."
DISCRIMINATION IN ICELAND?
Huang Nubo, the real estate tycoon who doubles as a member of the nominally anti-capitalist Chinese Communist Party, lashed out last Thursday at the government of Iceland for refusing his $8 million offer to buy a huge chunk of the Nordic island nation. Mr. Huang had sought to build an "ecotourist resort" and golf courses on 118 square miles of land.
Mr. Huang's rage also made headlines because of a perceived snub by the Icelandic government because "he is a Communist Party member."
Speaking at a ceremony marking his donation of $1.58 million to the Shanghai-based China-Europe International Business School, the 55-year-old Mr. Huang referred to Iceland's recent economic crisis.
"The Icelanders are sick and they are weak," he said. "They feel scared of the presence of a strong young man."
The Chinese Communist Party now boasts of having more than 80 million members, about the size of the entire population of Germany.
The party, widely viewed as beset with corruption at all levels, controls access to wealth and opportunities and the nation's assets, which are overwhelmingly in the hands of party members and those with connections to top party leaders.
Mr. Huang is closely connected to party inner circles and previously served as an official in the party's Propaganda Ministry.
At the Shanghai donation ceremony, Mr. Huang was quoted in state-run press accounts as saying: "I am proud of being a Communist Party member."
• Miles Yu's column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.