BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese taikonauts (astronauts) may start a branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in space, said the country's first taikonaut Yang Liwei.
China now has a 14-strong astronaut team. The team members, including Yang himself, are all CPC members.
"If China has its own space station, the taikonauts on mission will carry out the regular activities of a CPC branch in space in the way we do on earth, such as learning the Party's policies and exchanging opinions on the Party's decisions," said Yang, a delegate to the on-going CPC national congress in Beijing.
"If we establish a Party branch in space, it would also be the 'highest' of its kind in the world," said Yang, who is also deputy director of the China Astronaut Research and Training Center.
According to the CPC Constitution, a grass-root CPC organization should be established where there are three or more CPC members. The latest official figure shows that China has more than 73 million CPC members and about 3.6 million grass-roots CPC organizations.
"Like foreign astronauts having their beliefs, we believe in Communism, which is also a spiritual power," said Yang. "We may not pray in the way our foreign counterparts do, but the common belief has made us more united in space, where there is no national boundary, to accomplish our missions."
Comment by me: The "spiritual power" characterization of China's ruling party's political legitimating ideology gives me pause for thought. As China becomes a more and more important international actor, we may have more and more to worry about if this "spiritual power" is seen a force antithetical to "western democracy."