CHINA / POLITICS
Galina Kulikova: A People-to-People Diplomat for China-Russia Relations
Published: Jul 15, 2021 03:59 PM
She is the First Deputy Chairperson of the Russia-China Friendship Association. From the time when she was a young girl, she has been working diligently for China-Russia friendship. Even to this day, though her hair may have turned silver, her love for China remains as strong as ever, and she continues to dedicate herself to this cause. When the People's Republic of China (PRC) celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a presidential decree awarding her the Friendship Medal. She thus became the second Russian to be decorated with this distinct honor after Russian President Vladimir Putin. She is Galina Kulikova.

President Xi Jinping decorates Galina Kulikova with the Friendship Medal

President Xi Jinping decorates Galina Kulikova with the Friendship Medal


 
Kulikova was only 14 years old when the PRC was founded. News about the birth of this vast republic fascinated her. Hoping she could know more about the country, Kulikova passed the exams of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations to study the Chinese language there. During her sophomore year, the Beijing Experimental Drama Troupe and the Guangdong Folk Orchestra were on a performance tour in the Soviet Union. She joined the tour as an interpreter for the performance group. Over the months she spent with the group, Kulikova became good friends with the young Chinese performers similar to her age. "Those youngsters were outgoing, energetic and upbeat. Every day they worked and studied hard," Kulikova recalled, "And I was convinced then as I am now that China is a country with a bright future." 

From helping found the Soviet-China Friendship Association (succeeded by the Russia-China Friendship Association) in 1957 and working there from 1960 to 1963, to heading the Department of the Socialist Countries of the East of the Union of Soviet Societies for Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries in 1965 and concurrently serving as Executive Secretary of the Central Board of the Soviet-China Friendship Association, and to her election as the First Deputy Chairperson of the Soviet-China Friendship Association in 1989, Kulikova has dedicated her entire life to promoting friendship and cooperation between China and Russia, and has been at the forefront of people-to-people diplomacy. In December 2012, she published a book on people's diplomacy between Russia and China. The book is based on the history and events of the Russia-China Friendship Association and documents the seven decades of friendly exchanges between Chinese and Russian people with detailed accounts and pictures. In her book, Kulikova wrote about the forefathers of China-Russia friendship who made outstanding contribution such as Ivan Arkhipov who headed the Soviet expert group to China, and many who played their part in promoting friendly exchanges between the two countries in the 21st century. In the words of Kulikova, "I wish to document the Chinese and Russian friends whom I have worked with, who shine like stars in the sky."

Kulikova is also known for her commitment "all my life" to China-Russia friendship. She told a journalist during an interview that "in 2012, then Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang was in Russia for an official visit, during which he met with me and some other representatives of the Russia-China Friendship Association. He asked me how long I had been involved in promoting Russia-China friendship. I replied, 'All my life.' 'How so?' he asked. I told him that I had been interested in Chinese culture since primary school and that I began studying Chinese in university at the age of 16 and began taking part in the activities of the Friendship Association even before joining it in the 1960s."

Today, Kulikova continues to fulfill her role as First Deputy Chairperson of the Friendship Association. Though many years have flown by, she has kept herself true to the life-long commitment.

On April 26, 2012, then Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has a cordial meeting with Chinese and Russian representatives from academic, education, cultural and science and technology communities at his hotel shortly after arriving in Russia for an official visit

On April 26, 2012, then Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has a cordial meeting with Chinese and Russian representatives from academic, education, cultural and science and technology communities at his hotel shortly after arriving in Russia for an official visit


 
On learning that she had been awarded the Friendship Medal, Kulikova said humbly that the medal was not only for her. "My first reaction [on learning about the award] was indescribable gratitude and deep pride, followed by a heavy sense of responsibility. This is the highest honor awarded by China, and it recognizes not just me, but also the Russia-China Friendship Association where I have been working for 62 years, including my tens of thousands of colleagues. It is they who have dedicated themselves and nurtured the Russia-China friendship throughout these years. Many of them have left the world, and my mission is to pass on the baton to the younger generation to carry forward this cause."

Today, the octogenarian remains busy with the work of the Russia-China Friendship Association. When asked how long she intends to go on working for people-to-people diplomacy between the two countries, Kulikova held her medal and said, "I intend to work 100 years. That is the way to be worthy of this high honor."

First Deputy Chairperson of the Russia-China Friendship Association Galina Kulikova

First Deputy Chairperson of the Russia-China Friendship Association Galina Kulikova


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