Reply letter from Chinese leader encourages foreign friends to carry on with spirit of internationalism, shows cherished connection
Published: Oct 20, 2022 10:51 PM
Eric Foster Photo:Hu Yuwei/GT

Eric Foster Photo:Hu Yuwei/GT

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, Global Times reporter traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their contents.

 Eric Foster, nephew of the well-known Western journalists Helen Foster Snow and Edgar Snow Photo: Courtesy of Foster

Eric Foster, nephew of the well-known Western journalists Helen Foster Snow and Edgar Snow Photo: Courtesy of Foster

"President Xi's letter of reply was a big surprise and we all thanked him so much for honoring international friends' contributions to China's prosperity," Eric Foster, nephew of the well-known Western journalists Helen Foster Snow (1907-97) and Edgar Snow (1905-72), said after receiving a letter of reply from Xi.

Eric Foster vowed to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors to further discover and share the endeavors of the CPC in leading the Chinese people to prosperity. 

On September 14, 2021, Xi replied to a letter drafted by family members of some of China's international friends, including Edgar and Helen Snow, George Hatem, Rewi Alley, and Israel Epstein, paying high tribute to those international friends who had stood and fought shoulder to shoulder with the CPC and the Chinese people through thick and thin, and made invaluable contributions to China's revolution, construction, and reform, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

On August 31, 2021, 16 family members of the international friends jointly sent a letter to Xi to extend their warm congratulations on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. 

Edgar Snow, a household name in China, was a journalist from the US best known for his 1937 book entitled Red Star Over China which portrayed a clear and compelling image of how the then "mysterious" CPC led the revolution and brought human dignity and equality to the masses. Edgar Snow's wife, Helen Foster, was also a great figure in presenting the CPC to the world through first-hand accounts about the CPC's leaders and the Red Army.

They were among the first journalists to share the truth about who the CPC members were and the good that they were fighting for, Eric Foster told the Global Times. 

The letter exchange with Xi is an important way to commemorate the legacy of the Snows and to arouse "the Snows in the New Era," he noted.

Eric Foster said that this letter was initiated and drafted by some relatives of the abovementioned international friends to reiterate how their family members are committed to delivering a real China, which they are proud of, and also to express their appreciation of Xi.

"I was wonderfully surprised that we even got such a reply, and a lengthy one at that, instead of just a short 'Thank You,'" Eric Foster recalled. "President Xi is an extremely busy man ultimately responsible for 1.4 billion people, so for him to take his valuable time shows the importance he places on the past friendship and history of China's international friends. Also, with him continuing to recognize their contributions and honoring them is a continuing testimony that China does not forget her friends."

"I hope you will follow the steps of your loved ones, and contribute your fair share to strengthening the friendship and cooperation between the Chinese people and people of the world, and to building a community with a shared future for mankind," President Xi said in the reply letter, according to Xinhua.

"I think it's very important that we continue to commemorate those figures, because of the recent politics in the US actively demolishing this bridge of understanding. It's very important that we continue to look at these times and what Edgar and Helen Foster Snow did, and the bridge they were trying to build," Eric Foster told the Global Times. 

He said that the media in the US is trying to distort history, and it's important for the young generation to learn the true history of China. 

In the letter to Xi, the relatives said they are proud that their family members chose to stand with the CPC and the Chinese people, and are willing to carry forward an internationalist spirit in the new era under the guidance of the initiative of building a community with a shared future for mankind, according to Xinhua.

In his reply, Xi said that he hoped those relatives would follow the steps of their loved ones, and contribute a fair share to strengthening friendship and cooperation between the Chinese people and people of the world.

Inspired by his aunt and uncle, Eric Foster learned about the accomplishments of the CPC from many angles and discovered how he himself was "proud of the efficient government that has raised so many people out of poverty."

He appreciated Xi's efforts and achievements for the tremendous and extremely difficult work of helping China continue to prosper.

"The last few years have been difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic, but China has continued with its progress. Over the decade of Xi's leadership, to me, what's been both so astounding and amazing is how China has continued to lead the world in so many areas of production, covering all the important bases that a large, modern, growing country needs," he said.

Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries assisted in the interview