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NZCFS Delegation in China


2015-04-15

  A 13-member delegation of the New Zealand-China Friendship Society (NZCFS) visited China from August 28 to September 18, 2004, stopping at Beijing, Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Shandan, Lanzhou and Xi’an. It toured the places of historical interest along the ancient Silk Road and visited the Shandan Bailie School and the Lanzhou Oil School set up by Rewi Alley.

  
  Past and Present of the Silk Road
  
  Most of the delegation members had been to China before. But embarking on a Silk Road tour still brought them immeasurable excitement. Visiting the places along the Silk Road which are not as flourishing and modern as big cities, one can feel the historical changes and profound cultural background of China. The Chinese people of various ethnic groups have different customs and ways of life, but they live in harmony side by side. At the ruins of the ancient cities of Jiaohe and Gaochang, the delegation was astounded with China’s splendid ancient civilization and superb architecture. They marveled at the wisdom and ingenuity demonstrated by the ancient Chinese people in building the Jiayuguan Pass and karez (an irrigation system of wells connected by underground channels used in Xinjiang). In Mogao Grottoes and One-Thousand Buddha Caves, they were enchanted by the charm of these world cultural heritages and reluctant to leave. However, what impressed the delegation most were the great changes that had taken place there. The wind power plant in Dabancheng, the biggest in Asia, showed the result of reform and opening. The oilfields with rich reserves in the deserts keep injecting new vigour into the country’s economic development. The western development strategy has brought forth infinite vitality of the ancient cities like Lanzhou, Xi’an and many others.
  Throughout the trip, the delegation members asked lots of questions concerning China’s politics, economy, education, environment and people’s life. The guides briefed the guests on current situation in China, the challenges the country faced in development and the government policies, especially the policies on agriculture that the delegation was particularly interested in. Upon learning that the present administration attaches great importance to the issues of agriculture, rural area and farmers and has taken effective measures to improve the lives of the farmers, all the guests expressed their approval. They said that the success in fighting the SARS epidemic and the care shown to the farmers presented the image of a pragmatic, efficient and responsible Chinese government. Unfortunately, the western media failed to report the facts objectively. They said that after returning to New Zealand, they would tell the New Zealand people what is going on in China through the NZCFS to clear up misunderstandings and advise them to visit China and see the country themselves.
  
  Carrying on Rewi Ally’s Friendship Cause
  
  The late Rewi Alley, New Zealand friend of the Chinese people, had made indelible contributions to the cause of China-New Zealand Friendship. Another aim of the delegation’s visit was to strengthen China-New Zealand people-to-people friendship and carry forward the spirit of Rewi Alley. In Beijing, the delegation specially visited the former residence of Rewi Alley. They were impressed by the fact that the CPAFFC has still kept his residence intact after he passed away many years ago. This spirit of not forgetting old friends is very valuable. They said, as New Zealanders, they would work hard to ensure the continuous development of New Zealand-China friendship, to which Rewi Alley had dedicated all his life. The delegation also visited Shandan County in Gansu Province where Rewi Alley saw as his second hometown. Although the food and accommodation there were not quite satisfactory, nobody complained. They said that the conditions in Shandan had been much worse in the past, but Rewi Alley stayed there for more than 10 years, and worked hard together with the local people to change the state of poverty and backwardness. As his compatriots, they would not dislike Shandan for its poor conditions; instead, they would try their best to help Shandan.
  After a 4-to-5-hour bus ride, the delegation arrived at Shandan Bailie School. Over 2,000 students were rallying at the gate to welcome them. Mr. Bain, the delegation leader, said during the meeting with the students, although Shandan is not a developed city and doesn’t have any places of historical interest, it occupies a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders. It has witnessed the unremitting efforts made by Rewi Alley and the NZCFS for New Zealand-China Friendship. It also inspires people to carry forward Rewi Alley’s spirit of internationalism and cause of New Zealand-China friendship. On behalf of the NZCFS, he gave donation to the Bailie School for the purchase of audiovisual teaching equipment. John Ritchie, a member of the delegation and famous New Zealand musician, presented CDs with the music he had composed 16 years ago in praise of Rewi Alley and the music scores to the school. The delegation visited with great interest the school campus, former residence of Rewi Alley, Gung Ho enterprises and the tomb of Rewi Alley. They also attended the welcoming evening party, at which they chatted cordially and exchanged gifts with the students, bringing the evening party to its climax. When it was time for the delegation to leave, many members were reluctant to part with the students and were moved to tears. They said: although these students were mostly from poor families, they all had high ideal and not feared hardships. This was why Rewi Alley had made selfless dedication here instead of pursuing personal gains. They would carry on Rewi Alley’s cause and continue to provide assistance to these children so that they can learn some useful skills to transform the backwardness of Shandan.

  In Lanzhou, the delegation visited the Lanzhou Oil School established by Rewi Alley. They carefully listened to the school principal’s briefing on the present conditions and the future plan of the school. They asked questions and took notes. Accompanied by the students, they visited the student dormitory, inquiring about the students’ life and study and encouraging them to study hard and try to become pillars of the country.
  The delegation this time visited mainly China’s less-developed western region. They traveled long distances and put up with relatively hard conditions, but they were in high spirits all along the way. They said, despite the fact that most of them had been to China before, they visited mostly the relatively developed big cities and had little knowledge about the Silk Road. What this visit unveiled for them was beyond their imagination. This trip deepened their understanding of China, and more importantly, they saw the fruit of New Zealand-China Friendship from the warm hospitality they were accorded wherever they went. This made them more resolute in furthering this cause. After returning to their country, they would share this memorable experience with their families and friends and encourage more New Zealanders to visit China. They also expressed their thanks to the CPAFFC staffers for the careful arrangement and warm reception and said they would continue to strengthen cooperation with the CPAFFC and dedicated themselves to the long-term friendly relations with China by carrying forward Rewi Alley’s brilliant cause.
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