Monday, October 13, 2003

BEIJING, Oct. 12 — Amid all the clutter that has been rocketed into space is a clunky satellite expected to circle the Earth until 2070. The satellite, the Dong Fang Hong, was the first ever launched by China, in 1970, and is also an extraterrestrial boombox: It broadcasts into the cosmos the strains of the Maoist anthem, "The East is Red."

If China becomes the third nation to send an astronaut into space, as it plans to do on Wednesday, its top leaders will be sending a new message, to two audiences.

To the rest of the world, China is displaying its growing technological prowess, staking its claim to a future role in space and reasserting its case for being considered a power equal to the United States.


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