Letter from President Xi encourages Central Asian students to be ‘builders of bridges’
Carry forward Silk Road spirit
Published: Jun 14, 2023 09:17 PM
Editor's Note:

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

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 sent to him from different sectors of society and different parts of the world despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with people from all walks of life on numerous occasions, as part of a series of excellent China stories in the new era. 

The Global Times has traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communications with the Chinese president.

Rahman holds a hard copy of reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping with excitement. Photo: Courtesy of China University of Petroleum in Beijing

Rahman holds a hard copy of reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping with excitement. Photo: Courtesy of China University of Petroleum in Beijing

Receiving a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping left Rahman Bayramdurdyyev from Turkmenistan, highly invigorated, giving him a renewed sense of purpose and determination to continue pursuing his dreams in China. 

Rahman has, so far, lived and studied in China for 13 years. "This will be my most precious memory in China," Rahman excitedly told the Global Times. 

Recently, students from Central Asian countries at the China University of Petroleum in Beijing (CUPB) wrote a letter to Xi, telling him about their studies and lives in China and expressing their determination to study hard, strengthen cooperation, and contribute positively to the building of a China-Central Asia community of shared future, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Soon after receiving the letter, President Xi sent a reply to the students, encouraging them to make greater contributions to the promotion of ties between China and Central Asian countries.

In his reply, Xi said that China and Central Asian countries are linked by mountains and rivers, and that they have profound friendships and a shared future. "In 2013, I put forward the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt in Central Asia," Xi said.

Xi noted in the reply letter that over the last decade, China-Central Asia relations have been elevated to a new level, and cooperation in various fields has moved onto the fast track, delivering benefits to the peoples of the region.

Friendly relations between China and Central Asian countries need to be carried forward from generation to generation by ambitious and promising young people, Xi said.

Xi said the students have witnessed and benefited from China-Central Asia relations and, more importantly, they have helped boost China-Central Asia relations. He urged them to take an active part in promoting friendship between China and Central Asian countries, carry forward the Silk Road spirit, tell Chinese and Central Asian stories well, act as envoys of friendship and bridges of cooperation, and contribute to the building of an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future.

Both Rahman and Yessalina Aliya, another student from Kazakhstan who also studies in CUPB, were all impressed by the heated discussion when the Silk Road Economic Belt was proposed in Kazakhstan and said they are looking forward to seeing more cross-regional cooperation as a result of the initiative.

A group of Central Asian students living in China, like Rahman and Aliya, have been inspired by the reply letter from the Chinese leader. They see it as another positive impetus after the China-Central Asia Summit.

Cooperative projects between China and Central Asian countries rolled out in succession before and after the two-day China-Central Asia Summit held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on May 19. Observers said the deals will inject fresh impetus into economic and social development in the region.

Tajik students learn to operate machinery at Luban Workshop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Photo: IC

Tajik students learn to operate machinery at Luban Workshop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Photo: IC

Witness and beneficiary

As the main writer of the letter, the 29-year-old PhD student Rahman couldn't hide his excitement upon receiving the reply letter. "Although we had hoped for a response while writing the letters, we never expected to actually receive a reply from President Xi," he said. "It feels like a dream has come true." 

"President Xi's reply will be the most unforgettable and precious experience for me during my life in China," he underscored.

"During my 13 years in China, I have always been immersed by the deep love and care from my teachers and school. As a youth from Turkmenistan, I am especially grateful for the opportunities that China has given me. I wanted to share my joy and gratitude with President Xi," Rahman explained.

He tagged himself as a typical student who "has witnessed and benefited from China-Central Asia relations" as Xi stated in his letter, similar to nearly 200 other students from Central Asia studying at CUPB.

Rahman said he has always hoped for the opportunity to express his sincere gratitude to China and harbors the hope to be a "builder of a bridge" in China-Central Asia relations.

Thanks to a joint enrollment program rolled out by China and Turkmenistan, Rahman made a choice to come to China for his studies in 2010. For a long time, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has maintained good cooperation with Turkmenistan to develop the natural gas industry in the country. In 2009, the Chinese company rolled out a cooperation program with CUPB, through which outstanding high school graduates from Turkmenistan could be rewarded a scholarship to study at the University. 

In 2010, 15 students in Turkmenistan were selected to study in China through the program. Rahman was one of them coming to China to study that year.

"What attracted me most to China was China's rapid development. I was incredibly curious about the magic behind such an achievement," Rahman told the Global Times.

Rahman has witnessed the remarkable changes that have taken place in China in recent years. From urban construction to new energy vehicles, he is always surprised by the incredibly convenient life in China.

What kind of system leads a country of 1.4 billion people to run so efficiently and grow so fast? This aroused a deeper curiosity in him. After graduating from a master's degree in management, he decided to find the code by enrolling into the Sinicization of Marxism PhD program. 

"I decided that when studying in China, not only did I need to learn about advanced technologies, but also to learn about concepts behind national development. In this way, I could understand China from a broader and more comprehensive perspective," Rahman said.

In Rahman's view, Marxism covers a lot of ground. He explained, "Many issues rose by Marx and Engels are also realistic and applicable in today's society. The rapid development of China is an obvious model for many other countries. It is not necessary for other countries to replicate China's modernization, but at least China's path can be studied as an example," he said.

"I want to make full use of all my knowledge to make contributions to build a China-Central Asia community of shared future," Rahman, who regards China as his second home, told the Global Times.

"In recent years, the trade volume between China and Turkmenistan has been increasing, and many Turkmenistan logistics companies hope to do business with China, thanks to the attractiveness of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," he said.

"Now in Turkmenistan, more people are becoming interested in China. They want to travel to China. And more people have started to learn Chinese and ask my parents and me about how to apply for studies in China," he noted.

Rahman highly recognizes the role of the BRI in his country, saying that through infrastructure, trade, finance, and people exchanges, China is increasingly connecting with other countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

He also paid great attention to the China-Central Asia Summit held in Xi'an. "It was great to see that the summit brought some impetus into regional cooperation and drew the six participating countries closer. I also hope that more young people can tell stories about China and Central Asia well in order to promote mutual understanding and exchanges."

Hope to stay

The 22-year-old Kazakhstani student Yessalina Aliya still remembers how excited she was when she heard the news of President Xi's reply and jumped up from her dormitory bed. 

"I am so happy and surprised. The letter has inspired me to work harder and contribute to the friendship between China and Central Asia," she told the Global Times. 

Over the last five years living in China, she has been fascinated by the Chinese traditional art of Peking Opera. In school performances, Aliya's graceful Peking Opera movements always win applause. 

"I sincerely want to thank President Xi for providing us with a good learning opportunity and excellent living conditions, as well as the chance to experience the charm of Peking Opera," Aliya said. 

In the last decade since the BRI was proposed, Aliya has witnessed many signals of the upgrading of friendship between China and Kazakhstan. 

"My mother works as an accountant at the China National Petroleum Corporation, and she has shown me many opportunities and prospects for cooperation between the two countries. The cooperation has brought many job opportunities and advanced technologies to Kazakhstan," she said. 

Aliya, who is about to graduate, plans to continue her studies in China and pursue a master's degree in petroleum engineering, in order to further participate in China-Kazakhstan oil cooperation projects. 

"Trade development between China and Kazakhstan is rapid. The China-Central Asia Summit will also bring new vitality to closer bilateral trade cooperation in the future. I look forward to China and its five good neighbors working together to further build a global community of shared future," said Aliya.