Pakistani student impressed by warm letter from Chinese president, vows to be messenger of friendship
Published: Oct 25, 2022 04:26 PM


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.

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

Receiving a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2020 is "the most impressive moment" of Muhammad Arif Mughal's decade-long experience in China. 

Now, as a lecturer at the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB), he feels obliged and honored to continue being a messenger of friendship between China and Pakistan.  

Arif was a PhD candidate at the USTB in 2020. When the COVID-19 broke out and started to spread in Pakistan, he and his peers, who were staying in Pakistan, found it almost impossible to get masks. 

The university tried hard to contact them and managed to send them masks and other medical supplies in March 2020, making Arif "deeply moved" for the wholehearted care, so he came up with an idea - to write a letter to express his appreciation.  

Arif found that the other 51 Pakistani students at the school shared the same idea so they jointly wrote a letter to President Xi to report their study and lives in China, and expressed their deep appreciation and determination to make contributions to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and China-Pakistan friendship. 

To his surprise, he received a letter of response from President Xi on May 17, 2020, and immediately shared it will his friends and family.

Pakistani students pose for a group photo with University of Science and Technology Beijing staff members on Sunday after receiving a letter of response from Chinese President Xi Jiping. Photo: Courtesy of USTB

Pakistani students pose for a group photo with University of Science and Technology Beijing staff members on Sunday after receiving a letter of response from Chinese President Xi Jiping. Photo: Courtesy of USTB

Learning that the students have enriched their knowledge and made quite a few Chinese friends while studying in China, Xi said he felt happy for the achievements they have made.

"As you have felt, since the COVID-19 epidemic broke out, the Chinese government and schools have always cared for the lives and health of foreign students studying in China, providing all-round help for them," Xi noted.

The Chinese government and people put people's lives first and treat foreigners in the country the same as Chinese nationals, making no exception in offering them care, Xi wrote. 

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," he said, adding that China will continue providing various help to all foreign students studying in the country.

From time to time, Arif can feel the iron-clad friendship between China and Pakistan. 

When downpours and floods hit Arif's home country in August this year, China dispatched its Y-20 large transport aircraft of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force to send most-needed humanitarian aid materials, including 3,000 tents in the first batch, to flood-hit Pakistan. 

Arif recalled the warm help from his schoolmates, university staff and faculty when he first came to China in 2010 as an undergraduate student. Without them, "I could not have got used to life here so soon when I could barely speak any Chinese." 

Arif was inspired by his elder brother who was awarded a scholarship at Tsinghua University for a PhD program, and after consulting with him, he decided to come to China, too.

That proved to be a wise decision and now Arif is proud of completing bachelor's and PhD degrees in a reputable Chinese university and working as a lecturer in the field of artificial intelligence. He specializes in medical data collection and AI analysis to give people health advice. In protecting lives, Arif acquired a strong sense of mission.

Arif Mughal (right) attends a cultural event in China. Photo: Courtesry of Mughal

Arif Mughal (right) attends a cultural event in China. Photo: Courtesry of Mughal

In the past decade, he also witnessed China's development miracle in person, including cash-free society, super developed subway network in Beijing, and the comfortable and convenient high-speed railways. 

Having been spending most of his time in China since 2010 and described it "a second home," Arif got a deeper understanding of China's people-centered governance philosophy after the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Young and old, Chinese and foreign, all of them were united to fight against the coronavirus, which reflected Xi's vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, Arif noted. 

That was also in the reply letter, where Xi encouraged the students to communicate more with their Chinese peers and join hands with youth from all countries to contribute to promoting people-to-people connectivity and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

While welcoming excellent youth from other countries to study in China, Xi encouraged them to learn more about the country, communicate more with their Chinese peers and tell the world more about the China they see.

That is exactly what Arif has been doing now. 

Arif actively engages with different communities in China, makes Chinese friends, attends cultural events and visits exhibitions, has bites of Chinese delicacies (with hotpot the favorite) and watches Chinese TV dramas. 

Arif has also been recommending his friends and family members to come to visit China and acquire vivid, in-person experiences in this fast-growing country with friendly people and rich history and culture. 

He hopes to inspire more people, just like how his elderly brother inspired him.