Ahead of the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), three nominees have been proposed as recipients of this year's August 1 Medal, namely Du Fuguo, a young demining soldier, Qian Qihu, winner of the country's highest science and technology award and Nie Haisheng, commander of the epic Shenzhou-12 manned spaceflight mission.
The nominees' deeds will be publicized from Monday to Friday for public supervision.
Du Fuguo, 31 years old, was a demining soldier in the PLA. He volunteered to join the China-Vietnam border mine clearance mission in June 2015, and on October 11, 2018, an explosion took both of Du's hands and eyes when he attempted to protect his comrades during a land mine clearance operation in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Over the three years before the accident, Du had entered mine fields more than 1,000 times. He had removed more than 150 tons of bombs, 400 land mines and handled over 20 emergency situations.
Du was honored the title "role model of our times" in 2018, and was awarded the title of "Heroic Demining Soldier" a year later.
Another nominee Qian Qihu, 85, is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) who won the country's top science award, the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, in 2019. He set up the theoretical system for China's modern defense engineering and contributed to creating a below-ground defense infrastructure.
In an exclusive interview with the Global Times in 2019, Qian described his work, the "Underground Steel Great Wall," as the "country's last national defense line" that could "guarantee the security of the country's strategic arsenal" against potential attacks, including those from future hypersonic weapons.
After retirement, he actively advised on the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway and the Bohai Bay tunnel, donated all his prize money of 8 million yuan ($1.2 million) to poor students in the suburbs, and donated another 6.5 million yuan to support Wuhan's fight against COVID-19 epidemic.
The other nominee, Nie Haisheng, 58, was the commander of the Shenzhou-12 manned spaceflight mission in June 2021 and was among the first to visit and stay on China's space station for three months. His first space run was the Shenzhou-6 mission in October 2005, and the second on Shenzhou-10 in June 2013. He was granted the title of "hero astronaut" after his second space mission, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
Nie was honored with a first-class aerospace achievement medal by the Communist Party China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC) after returning from his epic journey in November 2021.
During their 90-day stay in orbit, Nie and his two crew members Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo carried out a variety of tasks. Their tasks included transferring and un-boxing supplies from Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft to decorate the space station core module, conducting hours-long spacewalks twice and verifying the reliability of the craft's smart robotic arm.
As the first group of residents in the Chinese space habitat, they also verified the capability of the new regenerative life support systems onboard, laying the foundation for future missions and the long-term operation of China's space station.
The August 1 Medal, conferred by the CMC chairman, is the highest honor in the Chinese military. It is granted to military personnel who have made outstanding contributions to safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, and to advancing the modernization of national defense and the armed forces.