By Wan Yu, Huang Weixin, Liu Hui, People’s Daily

A unique painting exhibition, embodying the beautiful dreams of African youths, was recently held some 400 kilometers above Earth at China’s Tiangong space station.

The creative works made their debut at an awarding ceremony for the “My Dream” painting competition for African youth.

The competition was launched in March this year by the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the China Manned Space Engineering Office and some Chinese embassies and consulates in African countries. It received submissions from some 2,000 youths from 42 African countries.

At the end of May, 10 works were selected as winners of the Tianhe Award, named after the core module of China’s space station. They flew into space along with the crew of China’s Shenzhou-16 mission, and were exhibited on the Tianhe core module on Sept. 13.

Three Chinese astronauts of the Shenzhou-16 mission, namely, Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, showed and introduced the works to the audience on Earth from the space station via video link.

Looking at an astronaut-themed painting, Zhu said the work shows the enthusiasm of African youth for manned space, and also boosts his confidence in future China-Africa space cooperation.

Exploring the unknown universe and developing space technology are the common endeavors of mankind, Zhu noted, emphasizing the full cooperation of all countries in the world, including Africa.

“We sincerely hope that Chinese and foreign astronauts can work together to make even greater contributions to human exploration of the universe,” he added.

The awarding ceremony was simultaneously held in Beijing and eight African countries including the Central African Republic, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, and Kenya. The award-winning African painters and other African youths repeatedly cheered and applauded during the video link, expressing their excitement.

They asked questions actively to Chinese astronauts, covering various topics such as the possibility of growing vegetables in the space station, the feeling on the space station, the contributions of the space industry to national development, and whether astronauts can see Africa’s Congo River from space.

Chen Dong, a Chinese astronaut who has conducted two manned space missions to Tiangong, answered their questions via video link in Beijing. He is the first Chinese to stay in orbit for more than 200 days.

Kenyan student Melissa Wanjala, a second-prize winner, said joining the competition sparked her dream of space.

She said she was deeply inspired by Chinese astronauts saying that vegetables can be grown in space She wanted to study agriculture and grow food in space to help alleviate poverty and hunger.

China’s cooperation with Africa in space is deepening, which has become a new highlight of China-Africa cooperation. Modern aerospace technology is playing an increasingly important role in promoting the economic and social development of African countries and benefiting the lives of African people.

In recent years, China, giving full play to its advantages in satellite remote sensing technology and resources, has signed memorandums of understanding on satellite data application cooperation with institutions and regional organizations in 13 African countries.

China has provided nearly 40,000 scenes of high-resolution satellite remote sensing data of Chinese natural resources to 23 African countries and has held multiple technical exchanges and training sessions. They have effectively enhanced the satellite remote sensing application capabilities of African countries and laid a solid foundation for further deepening China-Africa cooperation in the field.

Cooperation between Africa and China in aerospace technology is becoming increasingly close, said Ibrahima Sory Sylla, Ambassador of Senegal to China.

This event was another example of how China has been sincerely sharing development results and opportunities with Africa. African youths who participated via video link said the event aroused their curiosity about exploring the vast universe, and they hope to contribute to promoting friendly cooperation between Africa and China.

Wu Peng, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of China, stated at the event that China is willing to support Africa to cultivate talents in various fields, including modernization of governance, economic and social development, technological innovation, and improvement of people’s livelihood and welfare, through the implementation of the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development.

This will create more favorable conditions and provide a broader space for African youths to pursue their dreams and achieve success, Wu added.


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