Xi’s reply letter inspires friendship between peoples to spearhead new chapter in China-US ties
Future lies in youths
Published: Sep 20, 2023 10:59 PM
Students from Lincoln High School perform a flash mob dance with local students during a visit to Dujiangyan, Southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2018. Photo: Courtesy of David Chong

Students from Lincoln High School perform a flash mob dance with local students during a visit to Dujiangyan, Southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2018. Photo: Courtesy of David Chong

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 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 from different parts of society and the world despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has 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.

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

In this installment, Global Times reporters spoke with the heads of associations that have been actively promoting the development of friendship between the peoples of the two countries, about their past efforts to facilitate exchanges, understanding, and cooperation, as well as their views on current US-China relations.

"President Xi Jinping's reply letter has inspired those in the US who have feelings for China and want the relationship between the two countries to get back on track to move forward courageously," said David Chong, founder and president of the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, when speaking about how the excitement of receiving a letter from the Chinese president transformed into enduring inspiration.

Recently, Chinese President Xi replied to a letter from the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friends from all walks of life in Washington State, US and a letter from the grandson of General Joseph W. Stilwell in the US respectively, both receiving positive responses from China and the US as well as the international community. 

Letter after letter from President Xi to his American friends serve as reminders that the peoples of the two countries value each other's friendship, and that the interconnectedness of hearts can cross any barriers, Chong told the Global Times.

In recent years, despite China-US relations reached low ebb, the door to dialog and communication on the Chinese side has remained open, and exchanges and contacts between the Chinese and American people have remained uninterrupted. 

Xi personally has shown that he attaches great importance to the friendship between the peoples of the two countries. "The hope and foundation of the China-US relationship lie in the people, and its future lies in the youths," was Xi's earnest hope expressed in his reply, a hope that Chong bears in mind. 

Chong and like-minded peers look forward to further spreading the importance of promoting the China-US people-to-people friendship, which Xi has constantly emphasized, to promoting mutual understanding between the two countries through more tangible actions, and to letting the seeds of friendship between the two countries be firmly rooted in the hearts of the young generation.

Steadfast light behind dark clouds

In July, the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and other friendly people from all walks of life in Washington State sent a letter to Xi, expressing their good wishes for China's hosting of the 31st International University Sports Federation Summer World University Games in Chengdu and the Hangzhou Asian Games, while also reaffirming their commitment to continuously enhancing China-US youth cooperation and humanistic exchanges. 

Speaking on the reason for writing the letter, Chong referred to President Xi's remark during his meeting with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on June 16 this year, where the president stressed that the foundation of China-US relations lies in the people.

 "We have always placed our hope on the American people and wish all the best for the friendship between the two peoples," Xi said.

After seeing this news, Chong immediately shared Xi's views with his friends in Washington State, and they were all in agreement.

"We have found that in recent years, the voices of the American people calling for friendship between the two countries have been suppressed and even muffled. We felt it necessary to send a letter to President Xi, telling him that his friends in Washington State miss him, and at the same time letting our voices be heard by the American public, letting the Chinese people know that there has never been only one voice in the US, and that a lot of the American people expect that the two countries can continue to be friendly," he said.

Ron Chow, co-chairperson of the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, told the Global Times that President Xi's letter is an affirmation and support of their association's efforts to promote youth and student exchanges between the two countries. 

"In fact, this cause is widely supported by the American community," Chow said. 

The Global Times reporter found that the letter led by Chong and Chow to Xi was signed not only by the Secretary of State of Washington State, but also Washington State senators, mayors of Tacoma, Steilacoom and other politicians.

In September 2015, Xi visited Lincoln High School in Tacoma, US. Inside the school auditorium, he enjoyed a choir performance by Chinese and American students. The choir chose to perform a song named "On the Field of Hope," which embodies the Chinese people's faith and love for the future.

Less than a month after Xi's departure, the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association was established.

"We should allow our young people to have more contacts and exchanges to understand each other's cultures and values, especially at a time when some of them are being misled by remarks by certain Western media and politicians, which have created unnecessary suspicions," Chow said.

In July, the association arranged five high school students and one teacher from Steilacoom, Washington State, to participate in the 17th Shanghai International Youth Interactive Friendship Camp. 

Before coming to China, some US parents, influenced by negative public opinion about China, were apprehensive about their children's trip. However, the students returned from China told their families that it was one of the most wonderful summers they had ever spent, and hoped to continue their youth exchange program in China in coming years, Chow said.

From organizing US youth and student visits to China, promoting table tennis exchanges between the two countries, and helping teenagers who were personally affected by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 to visit Washington State, the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association has shown commitment to the improvement of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries' youths. 

Looking back on the association's work over the years, Chong and Chow are pleased that the platform which allows for the promotion of sincere exchanges, deepened understanding and building of friendships between US and Chinese youths, has maintained a solid trajectory in the spirit of mutual benefit.

Take steps in same direction

An open house?event held at the Chinese Embassy in the US with more 200 invited guests, to experience traditional Chinese culture, on July 27, 2023. Photo: VCG

An open house event held at the Chinese Embassy in the US with more 200 invited guests, to experience traditional Chinese culture, on July 27, 2023. Photo: VCG

"President Xi has many old friends in the US. Many of our friends have written letters to him, even those whose fathers fought with the Chinese military against fascism in World War II, creating a lifelong friendship. On the other hand, the story of President Xi's relationship with his old friends has also become a great story in US-China relations," Chong said.

On September 12, Xi also replied to a letter from the Chairman of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation Jeffrey Greene and Flying Tigers veterans Harry Moyer and Mel McMullen.

In his reply letters to the Flying Tigers' veterans and John Easterbrook, grandson of Stilwell, Xi stressed the fact that China and the US fought side by side against Japanese fascists and for world peace; looking into the future, the two countries have every reason to help each other achieve success and common prosperity.

The Chinese top leader continues to cherish his friends, honor history, and has hope for the next generation, and we cannot afford to sit back and watch the relationship between our two countries be pushed in the wrong direction by people with ulterior motives, Chong said.

In 1985, as Party secretary of Zhengding county in North China's Hebei Province, Xi went to the US on a study tour and met a number of American friends in Muscatine, Iowa. In 2012, when visiting the US as China's vice president, Xi made special arrangements to revisit Muscatine a reunion with his old friends.

 This short stopover displayed the power of people-to-people exchanges. Xi told his old friends, "You were the first group of Americans that I came into contact with. My impression of the country came from you."

"To me, you are America," Xi said.

 When President Xi visited the Lincoln High School in 2015, he surprised 100 students from the school with an invitation to visit China the next year. In 2016, 118 students and teachers from the school visited Chinese cities including Fuzhou, Chengdu, and Beijing. 

On the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in 2021, the principal of that school sent a letter to Xi stating that over the years, US students' visits to China have been some of the best educational experiences of their lives, and that he looks forward to further strengthening student exchanges and educational cooperation between the two countries in the future, and setting an example through the friendly exchanges between the two countries' peoples.

Chong and Chow believe that with President Xi's concern and inspiration, there will also be more and more people who have full confidence in the bright future of the relationship between China and the US.