- HONG KONG, China (CNN) --
UFO research is the stuff of sci-fi buffs and conspiracy freaks, but in
China it's treated seriously.
- Joseph Wong, a lab manager at Hong Kong's City
is a man of science. His job is to assess the structural performance of
- But familiar as he is with hard data, Wong is also a
fan of the unexplained.
- "If something flies over, there's a very good reason
for trying to understand why they're here, why they come to us, what is
their relationship between us and them," he says.
- Wong is the Chairman of Hong Kong's thriving UFO club
-- exploring "unidentified flying objects" or, to the
- The club meets once a month to explore otherworldly
like "E.T. Civilization" and "Alien Kung Fu."
- Members occasionally meet at a cyber cafe called UFO
Station in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui district. The spot is home to Hong
Kong's own version of the X-files.
- The dark monitor-lit cafÈ has UFO books,
and old news clippings of close encounters -- material that UFO club
take very seriously.
- A masters in UFOlogy? "In order to understand UFO
phenomena, we need to have a broad understanding of different
says Albert So, university professor and Hong Kong UFO club member,
mathematics, physics, history, philosophy, even some sort of paranormal
activities and all that."
- Hong Kong's UFO enthusiasts, like So, are not dreamy
stargazers, but researchers who see their passion as a science.
- So much so that they're lobbying for a university degree
program in "UFOlogy."
- "The graduates of this program will grasp at least
all the major knowledge in order to understand UFO phenomena, and also
other technologies and any skills related to UFOs," says So.
- "After students or friends finish this degree, they
may have their own understanding about this universe," Wong
- "Maybe they will be able to come up with a new
model, new way of life, or whatever."
- It sounds like a tough sell, but it may not be hard to
pitch in mainland China, where there is little taboo about discs that glow
in the night or theories on visitors from out there.
- Flying boats in China China's state-run media reports
on UFO sightings. Even the government's Ministry of Science and Technology
treats the topic with respect.
- "It seems that people in the East are more open
to discuss issues related to UFOs," So says.
- "Perhaps that is something to do with the culture
of the races. In particular, Chinese. Chinese is a kind of race who easily
believes in something supernatural."
- And they may have been believing for a long time. UFO
researchers point to an ancient drawing of the 100-year story of an emperor
meeting a flying boat ñ a compelling artifact in support of UFO
study, but not the only one.
- "For me, it's not very important whether there is
really a UFO that can fly or not," Wong says.
- "It's when we are investigating this, I think it's
the process that actually helps us to understand more about ourselves or
- For club chairman Joseph Wong, the truth may be out
but the payoff is personal ñ studying aliens helps to satiate a
very healthy, and very human, curiosity.