|Remarks by Consul General Zhao Weiping at the Opening Session of the 16th Edgar Snow Symposium|
Remarks by Consul General Zhao Weiping
At the Opening Session of the 16th Edgar Snow Symposium
(October 16, 2014，Kansas City)
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s a great honor for me to attend the 16th Edgar Snow Symposium. I am particularly glad that two distinguished groups from China are also with us today, respectively headed by Ambassador Ma, President of the China Society for People’s Friendship Studies and Deputy Director General Sun of the Ministry of Culture of China.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Gamer and the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation for organizing this important event and to all the friends present for your valuable support to the development of China-US relations.
We gather here today to commemorate Edgar Snow, a great American born in Kansas City and a true friend of the Chinese people.
We commemorate him, because he was a man with great love. Since his arrival in Shanghai in 1920s, he had witnessed unbearable sufferings of the Chinese people through his extensive travel around the country and developed deep sympathy for them.
We commemorate him, because he was a man of integrity and courage. Shortly after the Japanese militarism waged its full-scale war of aggression against China in 1937, he woke the world up with his masterpiece Red Star Over China to the true facts about the Communist Party of China that had been demonized for many years by the then Kuomintang government. His writings helped the world understand more about China at its critical moment of life and death. Many Chinese at that time rekindled their hopes on the fate of the Chinese nation because of what they had learned about the Communist Party of China from Snow’s book.
We commemorate him, also because he was a man who devoted all his life to promoting China-US friendship. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, although he himself was encountering very difficult situation in the United States due to the political environment then, Snow never gave up his strong belief in China-US friendship and kept in his heart the sincere wish for the normalization of China-US relations.
During his visit to China in 1960, Snow asked Chairman Mao if he still liked to go for a swim in the Mississippi River. Chairman Mao said, “Washington D.C. doesn’t welcome me.” Then Snow asked again, “what if they do welcome you?” Chairman Mao answered, “If that is the case, I can go in just a few days. But I will be there only as a swimmer and I will not touch political issues.”
It was a deep regret for Snow that he wasn’t able to witness the normalization of China-US relations in his lifetime. He passed away on February 15, 1972, just 6 days before President Nixon’s Air Force One landed at the Beijing Capital Airport for his historic visit to China.
I imagine that Snow was still thinking of US-China relations at the last minute of his life. That’s why he expressed his wish that after his death part of him would stay in China and part of him would be placed by the Hudson River. By doing that, he would continue to serve as a kind of connection between China and the US.
Yes, Snow is still the connection. His spirit has inspired many who long for the friendship between our two peoples. There have been many friends after Snow here in Kansas City and elsewhere in China and the US who have been working tirelessly for closer ties across the Pacific.
Here, I want to mention in particular Mary Clark and E. Grey Dimond, founders of the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation. Last year I had the honor of visiting Dr. Dimond at the famous Diastole, his residence. He looked very handsome and energetic that day and conversed with us for about one hour. He made fun of Nancy, who is also with us today over there, and every one of us. He shared with us his wisdom on how to live a long life with double happiness. At the end of the meeting, he invited me to come back again. It was indeed saddening that he passed away at the end of last year. I will remember him forever. We will remember him forever.
We gather here today also to promote China-US friendship and cooperation. Although time has changed, our pursuit of friendship and cooperation between China and the US remains the same.
When Snow stood beside Chairman Mao at the Tiananmen Rostrum in viewing China’s National Day celebration in 1970, he could not have foreseen the scale and scope of China-US relations today.
China and the US are already each other's second largest trade partner. Last year, our bilateral trade volume exceeded US$500 billion. Now, there are about 290,000 Chinese students studying in the US, and China has become the single largest source of international students for many American universities. And about 10,000 people travel across the Pacific every day. China and the US are also cooperating on major international and regional issues.
Not only our two peoples, but also the whole international community have felt the benefits of sound development of China-US relations. As China is deepening reform in a comprehensive way and its economy continues to grow, more opportunities will emerge for China-US cooperation.
In June last year, during their historic meeting at Annenberg Estate, California, President Xi Jinping and President Obama agreed to build a new model of major-country relations between China and the US featuring "no conflict or confrontation", "mutual respect" and "win-win cooperation".
Maybe that’s a goal not easy to achieve, but that’s certainly the right direction for future development of China-US relations, because that’s in the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples.
Next month, President Obama will visit China again, which will for sure bring about new important opportunities for China-US relations. With joint efforts by both sides, China-US relations will certainly achieve constant progress towards the goal of building a new model of major-country relations.
It’s always a noble undertaking to enhance friendship and cooperation among nations and promote the lasting peace of the world. That is exactly what the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation has been doing. I hope more and more people in our two countries will join this noble cause. And I wish this symposium a complete success.