China’s president has stressed the great value of strong China-US contacts at grassroots level.
President Xi Jinping has stressed the importance of strengthening exchanges, promoting understanding and expanding cooperation between the Chinese and American peoples in order to continuously give new impetus to developing relations between the two countries.
Xi made the remarks on Tuesday in reply to a letter from John Easterbrook, grandson of former United States General Joseph Stilwell.
Stilwell was a four-star general in the US Army who had visited China five times between 1911 and 1944, and lived in China for 12 years.
In his reply, which was published on Thursday, Xi thanked Easterbrook for his letter sharing stories about the friendly exchanges that Stilwell and several generations of his family have had with China.
Xi said that from the Stilwell family, he could feel the goodwill of the American people toward the Chinese people.
Stilwell was an old friend of the Chinese people, who gave active support to China’s cause of liberation and progress and made positive contributions to friendship between the two peoples, which the Chinese people will never forget, Xi said.
The general served as commander of US forces in the China-Burma-India Theatre from 1942 to 1944 and is fondly remembered as a hero who fought side by side with the Chinese people during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).
Last month, representatives of the fifth generation of Stilwell’s family visited Chongqing in southwestern China, where his former residence is located, to attend events commemorating the 140th birth anniversary of Stilwell. Easterbrook delivered a video message, while his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren attended the events in person.
Xi said he was delighted to see that Stilwell’s dedication to China-US friendship has been passed down to the fifth generation of his family.
Noting that China and the US had jointly fought against Japanese fascists and for world peace in the past, Xi said that, looking to the future, the two countries have every reason to help each other achieve success and common prosperity.
The foundation of China-US relations lies in the people and the source of strength comes from the friendship between their peoples, he said.
Xi said it is his hope and belief that Easterbrook and other members of the Stilwell family would continue to contribute to promoting friendship between the two peoples. He also invited the Stilwell family to visit China more often.
This was Xi’s second reply to American friends in recent weeks in which he has stressed the significance of amity between people for bilateral relations.
Last month, Xi said that “the hope and foundation of the China-US relationship lie in the people”, in his reply to a letter from the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friendly personages from all walks of life in the northwestern US state of Washington.
Diao Daming, a professor at the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said that the short interval between the two reply letters reflected the Chinese president’s high regard for China-US people-to-people interactions and also indicated the direction for consolidating China-US relations.
Over the past years, Xi has replied to dozens of letters from Americans who are dedicated to promoting US-China friendship, including Sarah Lande, former president of the Iowa Sister State Friendship Committee, and a group of US high school students studying Chinese at Niles North High School in Illinois.
Diao added: “In fact, people-to-people exchanges have always been integral to China-US relations in history. Such exchanges in different fields have played a crucial role in deepening and stabilising bilateral ties at key junctures.”
He noted that although the smearing and demonisation of China by some people in the US have had a negative impact on American public opinion with regard to China, it is still in the interests of the two peoples to promote stable China-US relations through dialogue and cooperation.
First published in the China Daily September 1, 2023
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