First Chinese Nobel Prize Laureate: Chinese Dream & Pride

Source:, BBC News Beijing & Wikipedia

Tu Youyou
Tu Youyou

The honour of being the first Chinese Nobel Prize winner goes to a lady Youyou Tu who won half of the Medicine prize with the other half shared by two others William Cambell & Satoshi Omura.

William C Cambell
William C Cambell
Satoshi Omura
Satoshi Omura

Tu was awarded half of the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria.

“It’s a virtue to remain indifferent to honor or disgrace.”
The old Chinese saying should be the best footnote on the landmark chapter when Tu Youyou became China’s first Nobel Laureate in medicine. This Nobel Prize that the Chinese have dreamed of for so long is an important international recognition of Chinese medical staffs’ contribution to the world, so the Chinese have good reason to be proud of it. Tu was awarded the prize because she discovered Artemisinin in a health project, Mission 523, in the 1970s, which effectively helped the worldwide battle against malaria.

As a medical researcher without a doctor’s degree, international experience or the title of academician, Tu was first to bring Artemisinin to the project, first to extract it and first to carry out clinical tests.

The academician system has made a major contribution to China’s economic growth, scientific and technological progress as well as the development of the defense industry. And China has advanced in research on quantum communication, neutrino, stem cells and high-performance computers, no matter whether Nobel Prizes are awarded to Chinese or not.

The amazing thing is that Tu Youyou is not a medical doctor, nor is she a Ph.D. holder or has any international research qualification or credential. The point to emphasise is that Tu Youyou was helped by ancient Chinese remedy in winning this Nobel Prize in Medicine

The United Kingdom, United States, Russia and Sweden have academician systems much longer established than China. Many don’t have a chance to stand in the spotlight as a Nobel Prize winner, either. But that doesn’t hinder them to make great achievements in their own countries.

The Nobel Prizes always spark controversies because of the committee’s “secret selection procedures” and according to many renowned scientists the awards, established in 1895, can’t match the rapid development of science today.

Ironically, the questionable award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama has proven to be the greatest controversy.

Image copyright
The 84-year-old’s route to the honour has been anything but traditional.

Tribute should be accorded to Tu Youyou for her knowledge & relentless research in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is fast claiming its rightful place & recognition in the field of medicine.

Tu described as being modest was born in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China on 30 December 1930. She attended Xiaoshi Middle School for junior high school and the first year of high school, before transferring to Ningbo Middle School in 1948. From 1951 to 1955, she attended Peking University Medical School / Beijing Medical Collage.Tu studied at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and graduated in 1955. Later Tu was trained for two and a half years in traditional Chinese medicine.
After graduation, Tu worked at the Academy of Chinese Medicine (now the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences) in Beijing. She was promoted to a Researcher (研究员, the highest researcher rank in mainland China equivalent to the academic rank of a full professor) in 1980 shortly after the Chinese economic reform began in 1978. In 2001 she was promoted to academic advisor for doctoral candidates. Currently she is the Chief Scientist in the Academy.

As of 2007, her office is in an old apartment building in Dongcheng District, Beijing.
Before 2011, Tu had been obscure for decades, and is described as “almost completely forgotten by people”.
Tu is regarded as the Professor of “Three Noes” – no postgraduate degree (there was no postgraduate education then in China), no study or research experience abroad, and not a member of any Chinese national academies, i.e. Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering.Up until 1979, there were no postgraduate degree programs in China, and China was largely isolated from the rest of the world.

Tu is now regarded as a representative figure of the first generation of Chinese medical workers since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. – (Source: Wikipedia.)

The Longest Escalator System in the World


As a question of national pride and prestige, nations have all strived to build the tallest structures. Typically, the World Trade Centre in New York City, has been challenged by the Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia & the 101 Taipei Tower. With the demise of the former brought about by the unforgettable event of September 11, 2001 what other man-made structures will inspire others to rise tall from the ground? In the oil-rich Arab world, Dubai is the place mad & crazy with the most unimaginable & superb structures in the world.

450px-HK_Mid-Level_Escalators.jpg The Elgin Street Entrance – Central-Mid-Levels Escalator

There will always be something for the nations in the world to boast about. Smaller nations like to show the world that they are coming of age and are equally able to produce this and that. It’s not necessary to boast only of structures that are out of this world, for there are feats of accomplishment very down to earth. In the bustling streets of Hong Kong Island, there is this humble and perhaps little known structure – the longest escalator in the world!

200px-Central-Mid-levels_escalator_.jpgInside The Escalator – Right Downward Walk Descent

Twisting up through Hong Kong’s narrow streets is the world’s longest escalator system, spanning over 800m. This is the Central-Mid-levels escalators (traditional Chinese: 中環至半山自動扶梯) – yes indeed the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. The escalators, moving walkways and pedestrian bridges connect the downtown financial district to the mid-levels, a upscale neighborhood of condominium towers where many executives live.

494376004_27321b2302_o.jpgConnecting Pedestrian Bridgertw_2004.1149530220.p1010259.jpgShops, Restaurants Galore With Easy Access

While skyscrapers demand and necessitate the use of lifts, the hilly topography of the streets in the Central District of Hong Kong requires the ease and convenience of vertical ascent through the use of a series of travelators and escalators. Starting from Queen’s Road Central/Queen Victoria Street Junction, it ends up at Conduit Road. For a greater part of the stretch, the escalators made their way up along Shelley Street. Imagine if you have to climb by the traditional step way! It’s truly amazing, providing an interesting feature of sight-seeing quite unlike any other. Be prepared to use the steps on the way down.

Along the way it cuts through such major roads as Hollywood Road, the area known for its antique, Bridges Street, Cains Road and Robinson Road. The end of each stretch offers something of interest to the tourists. If you are on the hunt for antiques of ceramic wares, hungry for a taste of delicious noodles, or just to photograph the quaint shops, every junction provides you the thrill of the day. As you ascend, you begin to wonder how the early settlers built upon such a hilly environment with such scanty flat land. No wonder Hong Kong expanded vertically before its horizontal expansion.

The escalator system was conceived to alleviate car traffic by helping commuters travel efficiently to work while providing protection from rain. The escalators, since its completion in 1994, have proven to be very popular, carrying over 45,000 people a day. It’s functionally aesthetic creating a unique cross sectional city view. With the connection to a series of shopping malls, ferry terminal & new office buildings, the convenience of daily commuting to work, shop, restaurants & play has been the greatest benefits to the folks living in the area. It has transformed the neighbourhoods it connects.

During my first visit to Hong Kong back in 1972, I stayed at Hilton Hotel. Now the Hotel is no longer there, and in its place a taller structure (Cheong Kong Centre, reputedly owned by Li Kah Shing and given the desired address as No. 1 Queen’s Road) presents the rapid progress of Hong Kong. When a five-star hotel could economically give way to progress, what more can we say of lesser structures. In a land-hunger Hong Kong the question of permanency is unheard of – I guess sentiment must make way for progress. This sentiment was popularised by Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore at the time of its rebuilding and along its road of progress.

Despite the economic downturn, Hong Kong’s skyline always present a vibrant air with bamboo scaffolding, towering derricks and cranks, highways, freeways, tunnels, bridges and the ever land reclamation projects. Will anything ever slows down Hong Kong? Perhaps not! It is truly a City that never sleeps. Life just goes on and on.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

(25 November 2001)