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Published: 09:50, September 05, 2023 | Updated: 10:04, September 05, 2023
Xi's exchanges with people in US pay off
By Zhang Yunbi
Published:09:50, September 05, 2023 Updated:10:04, September 05, 2023 By Zhang Yunbi

President Xi Jinping receives a custom No 1 Lincoln Abes' game jersey with his name on it on Sept 23, 2015. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The upcoming 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, have set the stage for more than just athletes, as a group of young people from both China and the United States is seeking to provide new artificial intelligence services and functions to make the sporting event even greater.

Among them is Maurice Chong, a 20-year-old Peking University student who is from the northwestern US state of Washington.

"The young people from both nations are intelligent, and their joint efforts and wisdom combined surely will produce brainchild results far greater than one-sided efforts," he said.

"There are no major stereotypes or prejudices between us, and we yearn for more teamwork and exchanges like this," he added.

Eight years ago, Chong was a member of the Lincoln High School choir in Tacoma, Washington. The choir performed for President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, on Sept 23, 2015, during Xi's state visit to the US. They sang an American classic, What a Wonderful World, as well as a popular Chinese folk song, On the Field of Hope.

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Chong recalled, "I was motivated as President Xi spoke to us and quoted an old Chinese saying: 'Read 10,000 books and travel 10,000 miles'. This points to the great importance of both theory and practice."

To grow China-US relations, the hope is in the people, the foundation lies among the people, and the future lies with the youth. 

Xi Jinping, Chinese President

"I've always been immensely curious about Chinese culture and hoped to visit and live on the Chinese mainland to gain a deeper understanding of the authentic Chinese way of life and local customs," Chong added.

In July, he was a co-signer of a letter to Xi from the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friendly people from all walks of life in Washington state.

In the letter, the friendly figures mentioned Xi's gift of table tennis equipment to the US youths and Lincoln High School in 2015, which "has sparked a growing popularity of table tennis among our city's youths, further strengthening our shared cultural ties".

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'Fruitful connections'

They also had extended sincere wishes for the success of the 31st FISU World University Games, which were held from July 28 to Aug 8 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and the Asian Games, which are scheduled for Sept 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou.

"We anticipate these events will amplify the friendship and cooperation between our nations, further enhancing the fruitful connections that have already been initiated," they wrote.

In his reply last month, Xi wrote, "To grow China-US relations, the hope is in the people, the foundation lies among the people, and the future lies with the youth.

"I hope more young people from China and the US will get to know each other better, work hand in hand, and become a new generation of ambassadors of friendship to inject fresh impetus into the growth of China-US relations," he added.

Wang Limin (right, front), a Chinese teacher at Niles North High School, shows a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping in Illinois state, the US, April 3, 2019. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Xi's constant dedication to advancing people-to-people exchanges over the past decade, through such means as meetings, visits and letters, has impressed people from all walks of life from both nations, including officials, entrepreneurs, students and scholars.

Lynn Eisenhauer, who teaches the Lincoln High School choir, said she can still remember the lyrics of the Chinese song On the Field of Hope.

"After that visit, the president invited 100 of our students to come to China for a friendship visit," she said, and in recent years, she has led students on visits to the country across the Pacific Ocean.

She said she was excited to bring students "who have never flown on an airplane or been out of the state they live in to come to visit and make friends from all over the world".

David Chong, founder and president of the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, noted that during Xi's trip in 2015, the leader chose to visit Lincoln High School, an integral part of the everyday life of grassroots-level Americans.

"We wrote the letter to President Xi in July because we want to let him know that not all the American people are countering China as depicted by some US mass media. There are many friendly figures working to carry forward and pass down US-China friendship," he said.

"Some individuals have been hyping the prospect of the two countries going to war against each other. That's nonsense. The two countries were allies during World War II against militarism and fascism. How come the allies have become rivals?

"No parents could even look at the possibility of seeing their children meeting on the battlefield. And we believe that the tense atmosphere between the two countries will be improved one day, so long as the general public continues to recognize the necessity of keeping exchanges afloat," he added.

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Yuan Zheng, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies, said that both Beijing and Washington have recently been more aware of the necessity of embarking on communication and dialogue, particularly in times when ties are strained.

"The China-US ties have always been one of the most significant bilateral ties in the world, and the great emphasis attached by China on the relations has not ever changed," he said.

Maurice Chong, speaking of his ongoing studies and team research in China, said: "The scientific exchanges between the youth are very pure, with an eye on our shared academic interests. We enjoy great prospects, and it is necessary for us to help the whole of humanity move forward together.

"We don't expect subnational exchanges to be demonized, and many young American people are vulnerable and sensitive to ill-founded attacks by the media and public opinion," he added.

Significance of amity

In the wake of his reply letter to the Washington state friends, Xi made a separate reply last week to a letter from John Easterbrook, grandson of the late US Army General Joseph Stilwell. This was the second letter within a month in which Xi replied to people in the US. In both letters, he stressed the significance of amity between the two peoples for state-to-state relations.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the two letters of reply fully demonstrate the great importance Xi attaches to the promotion of the communication between the two peoples.

Noting that exchanges at the people-to-people level between the two countries have resumed after the pandemic, Mao told a regular news conference on Monday that this serves the will of the people, the general trend of the times and the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples.

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