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Hear from China: China, US can still find opportunities to work together, says president of Helen Foster Snow Foundation
Published: Oct 18, 2022 12:06 PM
Adam Foster, President of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation.

Adam Foster, President of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation.



Editor's Note:

Chinese people believe that letters are as valuable as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have been delivering the writers' sentiments, friendship, and expectations.

During the past decade, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to reply to some letters from ordinary people despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has also corresponded with international friends from all walks of life on numerous occasions, part of a series of excellent stories of China's international exchanges in the new era. The letters have also added vivid color to the diplomacy between China and other countries in the last decade.

Over the last few months, the Global Times reporters traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their contents.

Chinese people and American people have a rich history of friendship and if we can successfully create opportunities to work together, this world will become a better place, Adam Foster, President of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, who penned a letter to Xi Jinping, told the Global Times.

In a letter of reply in January 2022, Xi pointed out that Edgar and Helen Snow actively promoted the Chinese Gong He (Gung Ho) movement of industrial cooperatives, and played an important role in establishing the Shandan Peili School in China's Gansu Province.

The Chinese people, he added, bear in mind the contributions made by international friends, including the Snows, to China's revolution and construction, as well as their sincere friendship with the Communist Party of China(CPC)and the Chinese people.

Xi said he highly appreciates the positive contributions made by the Helen Foster Snow family to the development of China-US relations over the years.

He expressed his hope that Foster and the foundation will continue to follow the example of the Snows and make new contributions to enhancing the friendship and cooperation between the Chinese and American people.

Xi's reply came after Foster had written to him, recalling the contributions made by Helen Snow to enhancing people-to-people friendship between the US and China.

He also vowed to carry forward her spirit of promoting friendship and cooperation between the people of the two countries and create a bridge for US-China people-to-people exchanges and interaction.

"It was really encouraging to see that leaders from both sides are looking for ways to keep that people-to-people connection… I hope that relationship continues," Snow told the Global Times. 

"We wrote a letter to President Xi, and that was signed by 66 members of the Foster family, thanking the Chinese people for what they've done to celebrate Helen and to honor her legacy," said Foster.

Continue the legacy

Helen Foster Snow, great-aunt of Adam Foster, together with Edgar Snow, whom she met and married in China, championed the practice of making the CPC known to the world through their writings on the Party and the Chinese revolution.

Adam Foster, President of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, an organization named after the accomplished journalist and writer, told the Global Times that the foundation is committed to creating a platform for dialogue, engagement and practical cooperation, while focusing on exchanges in education, culture and business.

To achieve that goal, the foundation is working with universities, museums and other institutions to promote language learning, education and cultural exchanges.

"For example, we are working with partners in Jiangxi Province to create a ceramic cultural center based in Utah, to share this amazing cultural tradition of ceramic artistry with Americans; with Northwest University in Xi'an, we are working to promote the Helen Foster Snow Translation Award to be a world-class translation competition," he said.

"Chinese people and American people have a rich history of friendship. If we can successfully create opportunities to work together, this world will become a better place," said Foster.

In recent years, due to the soured US-China relations, there have been reports and surveys showing that a negative perception from people of both countries toward each other is increasing. "It's unfortunate that this negative trend has influenced some Americans," Foster said. 

He said that understanding China is not easy for Americans. "It requires something more than just reading the headlines of news stories. I think it's important for people in both countries to learn more about each other and for Americans to become more China-literate."

He said it is important for both people to know that "we're not enemies of each other… sometimes the loudest voices can represent a very small minority of people. So I hope the Chinese people recognize that American people are not seeking conflict. The vast majority of Americans want peace and prosperity just as the Chinese people do."

According to Foster, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation has held several events in China to share his great-aunt's work as a photojournalist in 1930s China. "Events like these create a chance for subnational governments to engage and have dialogue with each other on non-sensitive topics," he said.

Adam Foster said that he would love his five children to carry on the family tradition of warming up relations between people from both countries. "I'm hoping that I can bring my children there to follow in those footsteps [of Helen] so that they can learn more about their great aunt and the adventures she had in China, and also to reconnect with these wonderful Chinese people that we've made friendships with over the years."