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Following the same logic, Mr. He said the ocean is the world’s best nuclear safety laboratory because nuclear accidents will not harm China as much.

“I am even more fond of the proposal to utilize nuclear technology in ships. We should convert our submarines, aircraft carrier, even destroyers and ocean-going merchant ships to nuclear power,” Mr. He said.

Mr. He was a member of the team that designed and engineered China’s first atomic and hydrogen bombs in the late 1950s and early 1960s. However, nuclear accidents in the former Soviet Union, the United States and particularly Japan turned him into an ardent opponent to building nuclear power plants inland.

Mr. He is a member of the Council of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, but many challenged his credentials as a bona fide scientist because of his strong ideological bent on Marxism. He has been a diehard member of the Chinese Communist Party since 1948. He gained most notoriety for his vicious attacks on the spiritual grass-roots, quasi-Buddhist group Falun Gong whose members have been brutally repressed by the Chinese government since 1999.

“I like a comment about me that says that when He Zuoxiu was young, he was obsessed with how to apply Marxism to physics; when He Zuoxiu is getting old, he is now obsessed with how to apply principles of theoretical physics to Marxist philosophy,” Mr. He said, with relish.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at