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Chinese Manned Launch Prompts Kudos - 2003-10-15

The launch of the Shenzhou 5, China's first manned spacecraft, has brought both congratulations and competitiveness from other nations with space programs.

Students in a Hong Kong classroom applauded news of China's successful space launch, as a schoolboy on Hong Kong Cable News Channel said he is so pleased with China's first manned mission that he just cannot describe his feelings.

Some Hong Kong residents said they feel very proud to be Chinese. Others, like one man watching the launch replayed on one of Hong Kong's many giant outdoor televisions, said the event is important because it means that Chinese are standing out.

In Japan, scientists hailed the launch as a great achievement for China - wishing the first taikonaut, Yang Liwei, a safe return.

Mely Caballero-Anthony, a professor at Singapore's Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies dismissed the concerns of some defense experts that China's space mission is meant to showcase its military prowess.

"For the region, it is something you can be proud of," she said. "But at the same time, the so-called China threat that was very prevalent in the eighties and the early nineties would have actually receded."

India's scientific community may want to compete with China, said U.R. Rao, former Chief of the Indian Space Research Organization, the country's space agency.

"I am sure there will be a large number of people who now are inspired to do the same thing," said Mr. Rao. "I am not very sure whether it is very worthwhile, particularly for a country like India to spend an enormous amount of money. I believe we have the technological capability, I do not have any doubt about it. But the question is whether we can afford to carry out such missions."

The Director General of the European Space Agency, Jean-Jacques Dordain, issued a statement saying the mission might bring wider cooperation among the international space community.