Asia getting active in new global astronomy project
BEIJING— at the 28th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Beijing, Chinese Vice President XI Jinping, who is widely tipped to be the next President of China, emphasized the importance of funding astronomy and its use as a tool for development. Xi praised the societal benefits of astronomy and North Korea joined the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Professor George Miley who was also a speaker at the conference and the Vice President of the IAU based in the Netherlands and stressed the significance of Vice President Xi’s speech. “Astronomy, is one of the most important and the most active scientific frontiers that has pushed forward natural sciences and technology, and led to the advances of modern society. It has tremendously important influences on the progress of other branches of natural science and the development of technology, said Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People's Republic of China. “We will make larger and larger investments in such a field. Public outreach should be given equal emphasis as scientific research to educate the public, so as to create a positive atmosphere for the public to respect, love, learn and use science, and to inspire the creativity for science and technological innovation among the public”. Miley, the architect of an ambitious IAU plan to use astronomy for global capacity building, said that Vice President Xi speech is a beautiful statement of why astronomy is so important for development. China has joined South Africa and the majority of European MEPs in appreciating this. This 28th Assembly marked a big mile stone for the astronomical development in Asia. The East Asian IAU regional node of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development is a joint venture between the IAU and China. It is headquartered in Beijing and will focus on China, Mongolia and Korea. The second IAU regional node, a joint venture with Thailand and 6 other countries covers the South East Asian region. As a result of the IAU Plan two new developing countries have joined the more than 70 member states that now comprise the Union - the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and Ethiopia.