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CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (Taiwan)

BEIJING - One can never guess these days what will come out of Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

After last weekend's sucessful launch of the Shenzhou 9, the Chinese spacecraft carrying China's first female astronaut, Sina Weibo initiated a campaign called "Write a letter to the Shenzhou 9 astronauts." It was an obvious attempt to curry favor with Chinese officialdom.

But rather than creating a chorus of praise for the "great achievement of the nation" that the Chinese Communist Party would have loved to read, they got merciless criticism instead. "The government has wasted an astronomical sum of money in sending people into space instead of solving China's boundless social ills or the things which poison ordinary folk's lives like systemic corruption, the lack of schooling for millions of poor children, or toxic food," the Central News Agency reports.

"China is the only country that is capable of sending a female taikonaut into orbit while at the same time being able to force a seven months pregnant woman to have an abortion." That was a reference to a story that gripped China last week of a woman forced to abort her child to comply with the country's one-child restrictions. "These two women's fates are the best portrayal of China's status quo, a nation where glory and dreams go hand in hand with shame and despair, where state-of-the-art technology accompanies the most ruthless trampling of human rights."

Another commented that "Obviously, solving all these urgent problems is much harder than getting into space."

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