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Lord Bates walks China: China contributes peace and prosperity to the world

By Wang Yisan, Bai Tianxing (People's Daily Online)    09:00, September 26, 2019

"Walking for Friendship" - a month-long hike organized by Lord Bates and Mrs. Li Xuelin, was launched on August 19 at Zhejiang University, marking the beginning of a 500-kilometer walk from Hangzhou to Wenzhou for the married couple. Along the way, they raised money for public charity and donated it to relevant institutions.

The couple met on Bates' first major walk across Europe from Olympia in Greece to London. Bates said that he fell in love with China, and more specifically, Li, shortly after, becoming a "proud son-in-law of China".

Lord Bates and Mrs. Li Xuelin arrive in Wenzhou. (Photo provided by the interviewee)

"We married when I got back to London, and we set up a foundation called the Walk of Peace Foundation," Bates explained during an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online on the eve of the challenge. "We said each year we would undertake a walk focused on peace and reconciliation somewhere around the world. We've kept to doing that, and this year again will be walking in China."

Lord Mike Bates is a member of the British House of Lords and has served as Secretary of State for the Department of International Development. Ms. Li Xuelin, an alumnus of Zhejiang University, moved to the UK after graduating from the university.

Walk of Friendship is launched in Zhejiang University on Aug. 19, 2019. (Photo provided by the interviewee)

During the launch at Zhejiang University last month, Wu Jing, Vice Chairman of the Zhejiang CPPCC, said that the deeds of Lord Bates and his wife were a model of Sino-British cooperation and exchange.

During the interview, Bates noted that China has contributed peace and prosperity to the rest of the world. "I've spoken about how wealth is created, distributed amongst people, and actually lifting people out of poverty. I think the other area which is often overlooked is that it has been a period largely of peace for China," said Bates.

"War is the greatest destroyer of wealth that we have seen. Peace is the greatest drive of prosperity. So China, by keeping itself to itself on the world stage, has actually managed to avoid getting entangled in conflicts around the world in a way that other countries have, and I think that it's that peace and prosperity which has been its contribution to the world so far."

When asked on China's global role, Bates responded that it's still early days for China. "China has, for a long time, been very much concerned with life within its own borders - it's had some real challenges to overcome. It's been very focused on itself, and perhaps it hasn't really opened up and engaged in the world in the same way that countries like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States have over many years," he noted. "I think it's waking up to its size and significance on the global stage and I don't think it's quite found its voice just yet… I'm sure it will do so and do so very effectively in the years to come."

Lord Bates interviewed by People's Daily Online

Bates said that China has gone through a long journey over the past 70 years, similar to his own journey over the last 10. "Of course, China’s journey is much bigger and longer," Bates noted, adding that the thing that impresses him most about China is that it has lifted more people out of poverty than any country in human history. "I think that's going to be its greatest achievement," he said.

According to Xinhua, over 10 million people living in rural areas are estimated to be lifted out of poverty this year alone. Over the past six years, over 80 million rural residents have been lifted out of poverty.

When asked to give his wishes to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Bates told Chinese people to "remember the secret of your success in the past 70 years," emphasizing that this extraordinary success was built on three things.

"Firstly, on economic prosperity. Secondly, on engaging through economic trade and friendship with other countries around the world. Third and finally, through peace. We wish you more of the same over the next thirty and seventy years." 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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