Questioning the use of Chinese language on China's space station shows Western double standards: netizens
Published: Jul 28, 2022 03:16 AM
Operation interface at China Space Station Photo: Screenshot of CCTV News
Operation interface at China Space Station Photo: Screenshot of CCTV News

"Why is Chinese language the only language used on China's new spaceship?" The question asked a year ago on Quora, a social question-and-answer platform, has triggered a lot of buzz as China successfully launched the Wentian laboratory module to its space station on July 24.

Dubbed the "heaviest buddy" among all single space modules in active service in the world, the Wentian is the second of the three-module T-shape structure of the China Space Station, following the 16-meter-long Tianhe core module launched in April 2021. The new move once again triggered heated discussion at home and abroad.

"Chinese language is the only language used on the new spaceship. Is it a proof that the country is isolated and is getting rid of foreign scientists by using a language that is not international?" Various opposition voices replied to the post saying such question shows typical classic western arrogance.

A netizen called Lance Chambers pointed out the rationality saying that "they speak Chinese because it is their mother tongue and it is the easiest language for them to use. Why would anyone expect them to use another language when they have a vital job to do?"

"Most of the Chinese space program is manned by Chinese engineers and scientists. What language do you think they would choose to speak?" replied Jim Bertagnolli, another netizen who identified as a retired technician.

"More people speak Putonghua than any other language. Why would you think they would use some 'international' language in their own space program? How arrogant that sounds," Bertagnolli added.

"What a rude request. You come to my place and demand that I speak your language?" said another netizen.

A Chinese user replied, "Well done, a textbook example for typical classic Western arrogance. If using Chinese on our own space station is being isolated, I guess you are assuming all 7 billion people on this planet should speak English. Which cannot be more arrogant."

Other comments pinpointed the US' double standards.

A netizen named William Liew said that it is the US who specifically banned China from participating in the International Space Station and that China simply built their own and, of course, everything is written in the Chinese language.

"Are you stupid? The US banned China from the 'INTERNATIONAL' SPACE STATION and now you expect China to use a western language in their own space station?" A netizen named Jim Milton asked back.

"Do you know that only a few countries are permitted to use the International Space Station?" another netizen added, saying that the absent cooperation between the US and China is not a result of China's unwillingness, but because of an act the US enforced on itself, the Wolf Amendment passed in 2011, which essentially prohibits any direct cooperation between NASA and its Chinese counterparts.

A Chinese netizen said, "we thought this was what you guys adopted long ago when you were dictating all the rules and all people had to play along since they do not have a choice. All we did was to offer another choice, and it is hilarious to see you whine about your monopoly taken away from you."

China's space station will of course use Chinese language, said Yang Yuguang, vice chair of the Space Transportation Committee at the International Astronautical Federation.

Yang explained that using of the astronauts' mother language at operation interface is more conducive to the astronaut's emergency judgment and operation and using Chinese as the first language in China's space station does not mean excluding foreign astronauts from visiting the space station.

"China's space station will have foreign scientific research programs and welcomes foreign astronauts to work on it. Relevant departments have started all the preparation for that," Qi Faren, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the first chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft, said in December 2021.

Three astronauts from France, Germany and Italy, who have been studying Chinese, are expected to go to China's Tiangong Space Station as early as 2022, Xinhua News Agency reported earlier.