China bans “evil cults” and forbids belief in anything but the Communist Party, but research into UFOs is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. There’s a government-approved China UFO Research Center with 50,000 members and a 20-year-old UFO magazine with a circulation of 200,000. “We have so many visitation reports that if people don’t have pictures, we won’t bother investigating,” says Zhang Jingping, director of the Beijing UFO Research Association.

UFOs are nothing new there?Matthew Forney writes in the Asia edition of about a 4th century Chinese text called the Collected Legacies, which describes a “moon boat” that floated above China every 12 years.

U.S. skeptics say the Chinese interest in UFOs is a substitute for forbidden religion. Psychologist Richard McNally says, “Chinese may feel a spiritual impulse that leads some to believe they’ve been abducted by aliens.”

But witnesses say their experiences are real. Meng Zhaoguo was working in the Red Flag logging camp in the Manchurian province of Heilongjiang, when he saw a metallic flash. He thought a helicopter had crashed, so he went out to find it so he could salvage the remains for scrap metal. When he got close, “Foom!” he says. “Something hit me square in the forehead and knocked me out.”

Several nights later, he woke up to find himself floating above his bed, having sex with a small, six-fingered alien, who left by walking through the wall. He later found a small mark on his thigh.

To some of us, this all sounds familiar.

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