Towards fostering an excellent relationship with Africa, China is organising a dialogue session between its three Taikonauts (Chinese astronauts), Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, and African youths. As a result, Chinese astronauts will, for the first time, interact with young Africans from eight countries. The historic event will hold at the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, today, 6 September 2022, by 11 am GMT. Interested persons can follow the live stream here.
The three taikonauts who are on their half-year stay at the China Space Station will connect with the African Youth to answer their questions. The eight participating countries include Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Algeria and Senegal. Hosts of the “Talk with Taikonauts” event collected questions for them from the internet, according to the official Twitter account of the China Mission to the African Union (AU).
Chen and Liu visited the African country of Namibia to share their stories with students back in 2019. China’s manned space programme is open to international cooperation, which means there may be African astronauts working in the China Space Station in the future. The taikonauts were sent to the China Space Station in June for a six-month mission. They entered “Wentian,” the first lab module that docked with the station in late July. So far, they have conducted multiple life science experiments in micro-gravity and had their first spacewalk.
This activity comes after the adoption of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation-Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024)” by the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The Action Plan states that China and Africa will “enhance cooperation on space technology, promote Africa’s space technology application and infrastructure development, and use the space industry to drive social development and improve people’s living standards.” The plan also states that, among others, “China and African countries will set up a China-Africa youth space alliance as a platform for space exchanges between Chinese and African middle school students, and explore new ways of science popularization in China-Africa space cooperation, to lay the foundation for realising the development vision of emerging space countries in Africa.”