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UPDATED: 10:42, December 23, 2004
Chinese still cherish memory of Norman Bethune
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Photo:Teachers and students of the Bethune Army Medical College visiting the school's history exhibition hall in Shijiazhuang on December 21.
Teachers and students of the Bethune Army Medical College visiting the school's history exhibition hall in Shijiazhuang on December 21.
Before Louis, a Canadian lady traveled to China this August, Qi Ming, a visiting Chinese scholar to Canada and teacher of a military academy in Beijing, wrote the Chinese words "I'm from the hometown of Bethune" on her traveling bag. Back from China, Louis told Qi Ming emotionally: These words were really better than a passport, whether when I was at the airport, hotel or on the train, people looked at me friendlily as they saw these words on my traveling bag, the boss of a restaurant even declined to take the payment for my meal!

December 21 marked the 65th anniversary of the publication of Mao Zedong's work "In Memory of Norman Bethune". On November 12, 1939, the great international communist fighter Norman Bethune died of disease at Huangshikou Village in Tangxian County of Hebei Province. On December 21 the same year, Comrade Mao Zedong published his "In Memory of Norman Bethune". Now 65 years have elapsed, but the Chinese still cherish deep memory of him.

A forum marking the 65th anniversary of the death of Norman Bethune and the publication of the work "In Memory of Norman Bethune" was held today in Beijing jointly by the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Health and several other departments. At which people deeply recalled the noble medical ethics of Comrade Bethune and reviewed the important significance of the publication of Chairman Mao's work "In Memory of Norman Bethune". Medical departments nationwide were called to remember with their actual deeds this internationalist fighter.

Li Meng, vice-chairperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said that carrying forward the Bethune spirit, being Bethune-styled scientists, and abiding by vocational ethics are of important significance under the new situation of the new century. Executive Vice-Health Minister Gao Qiang said the Bethune spirit, our valuable spirit wealth, has educated revolutionaries and medical workers of one generation after another We should use the Bethune spirit to guide our own actions and put devoted service to the masses, easing the pain of their illness reducing their burden of expenses and safeguarding their vital interests in the first place.

Ordinary people of Hebei Province have never for a moment forgotten Dr. Bethune, this is because during the 22 months of his service for the Chinese army and people in their fight against Japanese aggression, Dr. Bethune mainly worked in Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei border areas, busy himself for about 10 months on the land of Hebei Province. His former residence and memorial hall at Huangshikou Village in Tangxian County receive group after group of visitors each year.

Photo:Dr. Bethune performing operation on a wounded of the 8th Route Army at the anti-Japanese war front in the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei border area (file photo).
Dr. Bethune performing operation on a wounded of the 8th Route Army at the anti-Japanese war front in the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei border area (file photo).
The Bethune Military Medical College grown out of the Health School in Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei military region was initiated and founded personally by Bethune in September 1939 at Niuyangou Village in Tangxian County, Hebei Province. Bethune also personally compiled a syllabus and nine kinds of teaching materials for the school, and created medical apparatuses in light of the needs of battlefields, he was determined to leave behind a permanent medical team to China.

A hope primary school named after Bethune was completed on December 21 last year in Niuyangou Village where this Canadian once worked. It was built with the 230,000 yuan donated by nearly 4,000 people from all walks of life, but engraved on the "Donators" name list on the walls of the schoolhouse are the words "Disciples of Bethune". Kang Ke, a retiree who once worked together with Bethune asked somebody from Changchun of northeast China's Jilin Province to take 1,000 yuan to this said village, as an expression of the goodwill of this 98-year-old veteran comrade-in-arms of Bethune.

Wang Yuemin, secretary-general of the Bethune Research Society that has organized six symposiums on the Bethune spirit, said feelingly that the Bethune spirit has not only inspired army and local medical workers, but has also moved the ordinary people throughout the country. Thanks to Bethune's role as a linkage, exchanges between many Chinese cities and Bethune's hometown Gravenhurst have become increasingly frequent, scholars, culture and language are exchanged between the two sides, many domestic tourists mentioned by name the former residence of Bethune as their destination of visits.

Mayor John Klink of Bethune's hometown who paid a special visit to China in September 2002 for the unveiling ceremony of Bethune's bronze statue inside the military school said emotionally: In the notes left by Bethune wrote 'I'm very happy here, my only hope is that I can make more contributions'. Only people who have personally come to China are aware how Bethune was deeply loved by the people here. This great humanitarian would feel happy if he knew this today.

This article carried on the front page of People's Daily (Overseas Edition) December 22, 2004 was translated by People's Daily Online

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