On June 16, 2012, China successfully launched the Shenzhou-9 capsule, the country's fourth manned space mission. In order to celebrate this national feat, Chinese portal website Sina Weibo, has invited netizens to “write letters to the Shenzhou 9 capsule”. However, some have taken this opportunity to criticize excessive spending on a space mission, while the country is neglecting its basic social needs.
Artist Ah Ping's cartoon on the subject has been shared widely on Sina Weibo. As explained by the China Media Project, the cartoon shows:
a bedraggled teacher in a clearly dilapidated rural school excitedly explains to his students that the successful launch of Shenzhou-9 is a victory for China, even as the students’ own condition tells the story of another China left behind. The teacher holds up a copy of People’s Daily and says: “With the successful launch of Shenzhou-9, our mother country’s space endeavors have taken a giant leap forward. I’d like all of you students to write a commentary about this!”
The sentiment of the cartoon is echoed by many netizens who have pointed out that the space mission is far easier than solving social problems in China [zh]:
The news about the launch of the Shenzhou-9 capsule coincided with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's delivery of her Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo, Norway. On Twitter, most information activists believed that national glory should be built upon people's rights rather than space missions. Dissident blogger Wen Yunchao points out [zh]:
Tibetan dissent writer Degewa also raises her political concerns by retweeting a Tibetan microblog [zh]: