Summary: Considering the recent rash of UFO sightings over China, it is worth noting the opinion of Sun Shili, a retired foreign ministry official who is now president of the Beijing UFO Research Society - he believes waixingren (extraterrestrials) are living among us.
Considering the recent rash of UFO sightings over China, it is worth noting the opinion of Sun Shili, a retired foreign ministry official who is now president of the Beijing UFO Research Society - he believes waixingren (extraterrestrials) are living among us.
Sun's first close encounter occurred in 1971, when he was sent to the remote countryside during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) to perform the grueling task of rice planting. One day while toiling in the field, his attention was diverted to a bright object in the sky, which rose and fell repeatedly. At first, Sun assumed the spectacle was some sort of monitoring device - a reasonable deduction considering the times - however years later, after reading foreign materials on UFO sightings, he knew he had experienced a close encounter.
Today, Sun does not rule out any possibility, including aliens living and working in Chinese society - a position often difficult to refute.
And Sun is not the only expert in the country taking these sightings seriously. According to the highly-accredited Shen Shituan, a real rocket scientist, president of Beijing Aerospace University and honorary director of the China UFO Research Association, every report of an alien encounter is worth investigating.
Shen doesn't dismiss any story as too absurd, including the claims of one worker that aliens entered his Beijing home while his wife and child were present, and whisked him 265 kilometres east and back in only a few hours.
But what do these aliens want? Why visit China? Are they interested in participating in the 2008 Olympics? Maybe they are interested in setting up a venue should Shanghai host the 2010 World Expo? Or perhaps, they harbour more sinister intentions. After all humans beings have been known to eat the flesh of intelligent life forms - whale blubber and dog meat. Need I say more?
Cook books aside, one media pundit has pointed to the interesting parallels between America's close encounters of the 1950s and the spate of recent visitations to China. In the 1950s, with the US set to dominate world affairs, observers from other worlds may have wanted to learn more about the growing superpower. Following this logic, China's extraordinary development could be attracting the attention of alien visitors. They may be looking to open a nightclub on Shanghai's Maoming Lu or an electronics factory in Guangdong. Perhaps, the Beijing worker was spirited away to act as some sort of investment adviser. Such possibilities cannot be ignored - foreign direct investment is growth capital no matter what the country or planet of origin.
Of course, all these speculations assume that aliens do exist and are observing the earth and its species. Yet, there are still those who reject this idea.
Such skeptics need to reflect on the ubiquitous child's ant farm. The minuscule creatures toil endlessly completely unaware that they are being watched and that, with a simple tap on the glass by the giant undetected observer, what would amount to half a life time's work for an ant could be destroyed. So, why do we think ourselves so superior?
And if these foreign visitors should show themselves it would add a whole new meaning to the term yangguizi (foreign devil). I guess as science fiction writers often predict, alien overlords would give mankind a reason to abandon racial and cultural prejudices - we would have someone new to hate.