Sightings Out of This World
Island, N.Y.: Jan 2, 2000. pg. A.12
- Poor farmers in Beijing's barren hills saw it: an object swathed
in colored light arcing heavenward that some say must have been a
They're not alone. People in 12 other Chinese cities reported
possible UFO sightings last month. UFO
researchers, meanwhile, were busy looking into claims of an
alien abduction in Beijing.
At the dawn of the 2000s, China is astir with
sightings of otherworldly visitors. Such sightings are treated with
unexpected seriousness in this country usually straight jacketed by
its communist rulers.
"Some of these sightings are real, some are fake and with others
it's unclear," said Shen Shituan, a rocket scientist,
president of Beijing Aerospace University and honorary
director of the China UFO Research Association.
For thousands of years, Chinese have looked to the skies for
portents of change on Earth. While China is passing through its
first millennium using the West's Gregorian calendar, the
traditional lunar calendar is about to usher in the Year of
the Dragon, regarded as a time of tumultuous change.
In Pusalu, a patch of struggling corn and bean farms
30 miles from Beijing, villagers believe cosmic forces were at play
on Dec. 11. As they tell it, an object the size of a person
shimmering with golden light moved slowly into the sky.
"It was so beautiful, sort of yellow," villager Wang Cunqiao
said. "It was like someone flying up to heaven." What
"it" was remains a topic of debate. Many villagers are fervent
Buddhists. But local leaders play down religious
overtones, fearing government censure may spoil plans to attract
tourism to Pusalu.
State media ignored religious interpretations and labeled the
celestial events in Pusalu, Beijing,
Shanghai and 10 other cities in December as possible
UFOs. But UFO researchers largely dismiss
the sightings as airplane trails catching the low sun.
"If the military didn't chase it, it's because they knew it wasn't a
UFO. They were probably testing a new aircraft," said
Chen Yanchun, a shipping company executive who helps manage
the China UFO Research Resource Center, which has accounts
that the military scrambled planes in 1998 in an unsuccessful
pursuit of a UFO.