For the first time in nearly three decades, China has provided the name and identity of a U.S.-trained nuclear physicist whom it describes as the "father" of the country's first atomic bomb.
Deng Jiaxian, 62, who led the team that developed China's first nuclear bomb, is described as a selfless, driven man in the current issue of the official news magazine Outlook Weekly published today.
In a five-page article, the magazine also revealed, apparently for the first time, that China has conducted a total of 32 nuclear tests and that Deng personally directed 15 of them.
The publicity given to Deng Jiaxian after so many years of obscurity seems to fit with China's current emphasis on modernization and with its efforts to encourage scientists. According to the magazine, "intellectuals like Deng Jiaxian are pioneers of China's modernization drive."
The magazine reports on events in China and abroad and reflects the views of the Chinese Communist Party leadership, but in a less didactic way than publications that are clearly organs of the party.
The magazine said the Purdue University-trained Deng, now director of China's Nuclear Weapons Research and Design Institute, has not appeared in public for 28 years. It said he still prefers anonymity.
Shortly after China exploded its first atomic bomb in the Gobi Desert on Oct. 16, 1964, Outlook Weekly said, Deng took charge of the theoretical design of China's first hydrogen bomb, which China exploded 2 1/2 years later.
Many persons used to think that another U.S.-trained Chinese, Qian Xuesen, now honorary president of China's Astronautics Society, played the leading role in the development of China's first atomic bomb. Qian received his doctorate at the California Institute of Technology in 1938.
Qian worked in World War II as director of the rocket section of a U.S. defense advisory board but was later accused of being a communist. He was allowed to return to China in 1955 as part of a swap for nine Americans.
While Qian's contribution apparently was considerable, Outlook Weekly today said that the key man in China's efforts was the much less well-known Deng. It said "his contributions were linked with every breakthrough in strategic nuclear arms production and every successful major nuclear test."
The magazine portrays Deng as a selfless individual who devoted himself to building an atomic bomb, sacrificing almost all family life for a decade.
The article said that in the autumn of 1958, Deng was told that China was going to build a "big firecracker" and that he was to make a contribution.
The magazine said Deng earned a doctorate in physics from Purdue University in Indiana in the 1940s. He returned to China in 1950, and was placed in charge of the theoretical design of China's atomic bomb.