China Leadership Monitor

The Mystery of the Missing Godfather: Civil-Military Relations and the Shenzhou-5 Manned Space Mission

Friday, January 30, 2004

On October 15, 2003, China launched Shenzhou-5, its first manned space mission. China's space program was personally associated with Jiang during his tenure China's top leader, and he was prominently involved in the previous four Shenzhou launches. In the saturated media coverage of the launch and recovery, however, Jiang was noticeably absent. Instead, the new top party leader Hu Jintao was the center of the action, issuing the "important speech" on the success of the mission, and PRC Premier Wen Jiabao played a significant role. This report examines the possible reasons why Jiang was not in attendance at the Shenzhou-5 launch and assesses their implications for Chinese civil-military relations.