Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Qian Xuesen’s Regrets

Posted by on 2009/11/14. Filed under Opinions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Liang Jing
Nov 14, 2009 – 7:11:28 AM

Despite being nearly 98, Qian Xuesen’s death deeply saddened tens of millions of people, not only because of his extraordinary achievements, but more importantly, people were able to feel the old man’s great personality. When Wen Jiabao came to visit him three years ago, the venerable Qian deftly turned aside Wen’s formulaic compliments, shifting the conversation to the unsavory state of education in China today, and saying things the Premier did not want to hear: “(China) has no university that can teach in a way that develops scientifically and technologically inventive people. China lacks originality and innovation, and fails to ‘emit’ any outstanding talent. This is a major problem.” [1]

One cannot but be astonished that some one of his age should have such a grasp of and concern for what was going on outside. However, Qian’s advice is incapable of improving the rotten status quo. Premier Wen Jiabao did nothing, but carried on for three years “help–ing others make mischief”. Qian must have passed away with nothing but regrets.

If he’d known more about the situation in Chinese society today his regrets would not have been limited to failures in education. Before returning to China from the US, he had told reporters: “I want to try my best to help the Chinese people build a country that will enable them to live happy and dignified lives.” (Life Weekly, Sanlian, 2009 No. 41) Were Qian’s ideals realized in his lifetime? It would seem not. Indeed, he did help China get missiles, satellites and atom–ic bombs, winning dignity for the country and glory for the people, but can rockets and atomic bombs alone to enable the majority of the people to live in happiness and dignity?

With Qian’s acuity, I think he must have felt that today’s China is undergoing a crisis he had not anticipated, and that the failures in education are but part of a tragic overall crisis.

The great wealth and national power of China today was paid for by over a century of countless martyrs who, wave upon wave, undaunted by repeated setbacks, embraced the ideal of national salvation. But the old Communist Party veterans, who refused to give up the one-party dictatorship, were to pass their power into the hands of a group of mediocrities who, apart from seeking fame and self-interest, have no idea of where to lead this country. Qian’s lament for the inability to engender talent expressed his concern for China’s future.

His concerns, moreover, are shared by a great many others. There was an online news item last week that aroused great concern: Ren Yuling, a member of one of the democratic parties and a State Councillor, actually cried at a meeting. The old man, with a similar engineering and technical background to Qian, spends more than six months each year carrying out investigations around the country. On 26 October, while he was analysing group incidents at the “2009 China’s first Emergency Management Summit Forum” held in Beijing, several times choking back tears, he recounted a series of facts and figures that left participants in shock.

Ren Yuling said that from 1993 to 2003, group incidents had increased annually by an average of 17%, with the number of cases rising from 10,000 to 60,000, and the people involved from 720,000 to 3.02 million. Following the Weng’an incident of June 2008, group incidents had become more frequent and larger; the gap between rich and poor was rapidly widening, with the Gini coefficient at close to 0.5. In order to deal with unexpected events, local governments continued to increase investment in the state apparatus squeezing out expenditure on the three major rural issues and education. Internationally the rate at which university students become entrepreneurs is 20%, but in China it is less than 1%. Forty-five people per million start businesses abroad, but in China only 9. Of people held in China’s detention centres, 75% are young, and 75% of these are held for theft or robbery. [2]

Browsing various media, China’s worsening governance and social crises can no longer be hidden; even more so is the fact that those in power are at their wit’s end in the face of these crises, and apart from empty talk and issuing dead orders, can offer no solution to the problem. China is accelerating its slide into Professor Sun Liping terms “an ungovernable state.” Even though we have people who are concerned for the fate of the country and its people, there is nothing they can do about it. The rulers listen neither to blunt advice nor suggested solutions. Mediocre and slavish, they lack any ability for ruling the country, and when given power can only muddle along from day to day. Why do China’s best people rise to the occasion only at moments of calamity? Why do only mediocrities and slavish talents come to the top in times of prosperity? Qian’s death forces the Chinese people to consider these questions.

People like talking about patriotism, but why does a country that has so many patriots suffer so deeply? Why are there so many people living unhappy lives, without dignity?

Chinese elites have a deep-rooted prejudice that the dignity of the state is always higher than that of the individual; patriots must learn to endure humiliation in carrying out their mission, and be willing to be slavish. This prejudice has made slavishness a very popular philosophy in China, and is a major reason for country’s plight of rule by slavish talents, and likewise for the failure to produce outstanding people. Life experience shows us that creative geniuses are very concerned about the dignity of the individual; mediocrities and slave talents fail to do so.

Had he not encountered personal insult on the part of the US government, would Qian have returned to China? It may forever be a puzzle. One thing however is certain—while the venerable Qian used his talents to safeguard the dignity of the motherland and the individual, he would have deep regrets seeing so many of his compatriots living without dignity.
* Liang Jing, “Qian Xuesen de yihan” [Qian Xuesen’s regrets], 13 November 2009 [梁京: “钱学森的遗憾”, 2009年11月 13日.].

[1] Li Bin, “Qinqiede jiaotan—Wen Jiabao kanwang Ji Xianlin, Qian Xuesen ceji” [Cordial conversations—sidelight on Wen Jiabao’s calls on Ji Xianlin and Qian Xuesen], Xinhua wang, 30 July 2009 [李斌: “亲切的交谈 —温家宝看望季羡林、钱学森侧记”, 新华网,2009年7月 30日 http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2005-07/30/content_3287444.htm

[2] Reporter, “Youguo youmin: Guowuyuan canshi Ren Yuling hui haotao daku” [Concern for country and people: State Department Counselor Ren Yuling weeps at meeting], Guangming wang, 13 November 2009 [记者: “忧国忧民:国务院参事任玉岭开会嚎啕大哭”, 光明网,2009年11月 13日 http://www.wyzxsx.com/Article/Class4/200911/112821.html%29

comments powered by Disqus