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Understanding, cooperation foster stronger friendship

Author  :  CHU GUOFEI     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-11-20

The Western expectation that China will adopt a Western approach is to fail to understand and recognize “What is China,” said David Bromwich, president of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, at a workshop held on Nov. 5. He believed that those Western countries and leaders who retain this mentality will be slow to participate in the new era.

The workshop discussed international friendship in honor of the 70th anniversary of the PRC, co-organized by the China Society for People’s Friendship Studies (CSPFS) and the Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (BPAFFC). International friends, former diplomats and scholars engaged in the research of international friendship all came for this symposium, recalling the contributions of international friends before and after the founding of the PRC, introducing their touching stories and passing on their great spirit, promoting friendly cooperation between China and other countries.

In the last seven decades, many foreign friends have come long distances to China and made their indelible contribution to the founding and development of the PRC. Isabel Crook was awarded a “Friendship Medal” by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Dr. George Hatem and Israel Epstein were awarded the “Most Beautiful Fighter” title. Kyoko Nakamura was awarded the souvenir medal for the 70th anniversary of the PRC. They are vivid examples of the great achievements made by our foreign friends, said Zhao Wenzhi, vice president of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges and president of the Beijing NGO Network for International Exchanges.

Bromwich said that the world has observed major transformations in China’s society, economy and position on the world stage, especially in the last four decades. Yet in the West, the dominant narrative has failed to understand that this does not mean that China has become Westernized.

He continued that the West has not made a serious effort to understand, let alone present, a Chinese perspective, and to a great extent has not appreciated that an alternative understanding exists.

“We see this ignorance in headlines in the Western media, in which the Western perspective is dominant. There is selective reporting to portray negative impressions, and facts are often misrepresented,” he said. Too often Western reporting lacks objective evaluation, leading to a very low credibility within the media to further the dialogue and promote a valid understanding of China.

Bromwich shared his own journey in China in two key areas over the last 25 years. He has been involved in rural community development in poor areas, with a focus on promoting cooperatives as a means by which smallholder farmers can engage in broader markets. He also organized educational tours and delegations to China to experience the real China and has personally witnessed significant improvements in the livelihoods of the poorest families and the development of broad opportunities for all.

Nancy Hill, honorary chairperson of the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation shared with the audience Dr. E. Grey Dimond’s “deceptively simple yet brilliant” approach to improving relations—it’s all about the personal, not about the political.

Hill believed that if we could get enough people from our two countries to meet—to momentarily put aside politics and preconceptions and just simply meet, enjoy and learn from each other—the natural harmony between our two peoples would take over. Fear and mistrust would melt away, replaced by friendship and understanding.

Zhang Qian, executive vice president of the BPAFFC, said that throughout the Chinese nation’s pursuit of national independence, development and progress, there has been a special group capable of evoking praises and tears. Born in foreign countries, they came to this distant land and helped Chinese people pursue national liberation, promote socialist construction and realize the “Chinese Dream” with their youth, wisdom, passion and even life. They have a resounding name, that is, “international friends.”

Editor: Yu Hui

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