President sends congratulations as friends of China gather at Kuliang forum

More than a century ago, some United States citizens began living in Kuliang, a famous summer retreat in Fuzhou, Fujian province, joining thousands of other foreigners. They later became part of the China-US friendship, working and living in harmony with local Chinese.

On Wednesday, a group of descendants and associates of those Kuliang residents held their first major reunion with Chinese friends since the COVID-19 outbreak. Gathering at a forum in Fuzhou, they were amazed to receive a letter from President Xi Jinping extending his congratulations to the event.

In his letter to the Bond with Kuliang: 2023 China-US People-to-People Friendship Forum, Xi emphasized that the friendship of the two countries lies in the amity between their people. "The root of the development of country-to-country relations lies in the people of the two countries," he wrote.

In his message, Xi said that some "Friends of Kuliang" wrote him letters, helping him learn more about their touching stories regarding Kuliang.

Xi noted that Donald MacInnis, a member of the Flying Tigers — a formidable group of US volunteer fighter pilots who from 1941 to 1942 helped China fight the Japanese invasion — had decided to have his ashes scattered after cremation into the Minjiang River, which flows through Fuzhou.

"The experiences of Friends of Kuliang once again testify that the people of China and the US can develop deep friendship by transcending differences in (social) systems, cultures and languages," Xi said.

Elyn MacInnis, daughter-in-law of Donald MacInnis and an expert on Kuliang cultural studies, said: "I really understand when we talk about building mutual understanding and building deep friendship between our countries. Because from my family... I know that this is possible."

In his letter, Xi also shared his personal experience in advancing China-US friendly exchanges and his interactions with the "Kuliang Friends".

One of the stories of friendship is about Milton Gardner, a US citizen who came to Fuzhou in 1901 as an infant with his parents and stayed until his family moved back to the US in 1911.

Gardner, later a professor of physics at the University of California, had always dreamed of going back to Kuliang but was unable to fulfill his wish, and his last words before passing away in 1986 reportedly were "Kuliang, Kuliang".

With the help of a Chinese student then studying in the US, Gardner s wife finally identified that her husband s childhood home had been Kuliang in the suburbs of Fuzhou.

In 1992, Xi, then secretary of the Fuzhou Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, learned about this touching story and invited Milton Gardner s widow, Elizabeth Gardner, to visit China.

When Xi was visiting the US as Chinese vice-president in 2012, he told the story of Kuliang at a welcoming luncheon held by US friendly groups, and the story resonated with people from all walks of life in the two countries.

"More than 30 years have passed (since Elizabeth Gardner s visit to Fuzhou), and Friends of Kuliang and friendly people from all walks of life in the two countries have been tapping into the history of Kuliang, actively spreading Kuliang culture, and making unremitting efforts to deepen mutual understanding and friendly exchanges between the people of China and the US," Xi said in his letter.

"It is hoped that everyone can pass along and carry forward the story of Kuliang and the love of Kuliang, so that the friendship between China and the US can thrive and live like the 1,000-year-old cedar in Kuliang," he said.

Gail Harris, granddaughter of Harry Russell Caldwell, a missionary known for managing and building schools in China, noted that both sets of her grandparents came to the country at the turn of the 20th century.

"I have been welcomed by more than hospitality. It s like coming home. And really, it is home for me, because everyone in my family was born in China," she said.

Lin Songtian, president of the Chinese People s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said that Xi s letter showcases his great bond with old US friends, his great hope regarding the development of two-way ties, his emphasis on securing the ties growth and his kindness and sincerity for China-US people-to-people amity.

Zhou Zuyi, Party secretary of Fujian and director of the Standing Committee of the Fujian Provincial People s Congress, said the US is Fujian s second-largest trading partner, and that last year, Fujian s trade with the US totaled 263.1 billion yuan ($36.3 billion).

Xie Feng, Chinese ambassador to the US, said in a prerecorded video speech that "the vast Pacific Ocean has never managed to block the mutual understanding and mutual assistance between the Chinese and American peoples".

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播报:Michael Card




新华社北京6月28日电 6月28日,国家主席习近平向“鼓岭缘”中美民间友好论坛致贺信。





“鼓岭缘”中美民间友好论坛28日在福建省福州市举办,主题为“传承友谊薪火 共创美好未来”,由中国人民对外友好协会和福建省人民政府共同主办,“鼓岭之友”部分成员等中美各界人士参加。