Top nuclear scientist 'backbone of nation'

China Daily
Huang Panyue

Cheng Kaijia [File photo]

Members of the public have been paying tribute to Cheng Kaijia-a prominent scientist who helped China enter the atomic age-after he passed away on Saturday in Beijing at the age of 101.

Many people expressed their condolences below news reports on Sina Weibo and WeChat, the most popular social network platforms in China.

A great number of people wrote that they will always be grateful to Cheng for his contribution to the nation and its defense.

One microblogger who goes under the name of Dandingchaogupiao called Cheng "a hero and backbone of the Chinese nation", while DiqianQueen wished to tell Cheng: "When you were born to the motherland, she was miserable and desolate. But when you left today, she has become beautiful and magnificent."

People's Daily said on Saturday on its Sina Weibo account that the Chinese people will never forget Cheng because he brought pride to the Chinese people and made the world respect China.

Born on Aug 3, 1918, in Wujiang, Jiangsu province, Cheng went to a middle school in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, in 1931.

He studied physics at Zhejiang University in 1937 and became an assistant lecturer there in 1941 after his graduation.

In 1946, Cheng went to the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, obtaining a PhD in 1948 under adviser Max Born, a distinguished German physicist and mathematician.

In 1950, the young physicist returned to China and performed research in physics at two universities.

The career path of Cheng was transformed in the summer of 1960 when he was summoned to China's nuclear weapons program.


Cheng was named chief designer of China's nuclear test technology in 1962 and personally designed the explosion test method of the country's first atomic bomb, which made China the world's fifth nuclear power in 1964.

Later the scientist took part in more than 30 nuclear tests and worked at a nuclear test base in northwestern China for more than 20 years until he was named a top defense technology adviser and returned to Beijing in the mid-1980s.

Due to Cheng's research and contributions, he was elected member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and was given numerous national awards and honorary titles.

He was recipient of the top national science and technology award and the August 1 Medal, the highest honor given to Chinese military personnel.


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