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Special Tujia gifts for angels in white

(Xinhua)    15:01, March 20, 2020

TIANJIN, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Since China released a plan of pairing-up support for Hubei, over half of China's provincial-level regions aided the cities in the once hardest-hit province during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tianjin, a port city in northern China, has paired up with Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, where a cluster of many Tujia people from one of China's 55 ethnic minority groups live.

The Tianjin medical team, which had been working around the clock for over half a month in Enshi, received a special gift of 43 pairs of red and blue cloth shoes made of Tujia brocade, a traditional textile handicraft.

The uppers of the shoes were decorated with auspicious birds of the Tujia ethnic group in geometric shape, representing a token of good fortune.

Tian Ruolan, who oversees a Tujia brocade mill in Enshi, said it would take 40 to 50 procedures to make a pair of cloth shoes with the ethnic handicraft, which are regarded as gifts for the most distinguished guests in Tujia culture.

"I got an anonymous phone call on the last day of February, with someone asking to buy 43 pairs of cloth shoes for Tianjin medics along with a handwriting letter," she recalled.

Tian was touched and moved by this warm-hearted donor and decided to sell the shoes at low prices with extra exquisite packaging.

Enshi is famous for its potatoes. The anonymous caller went by the name of "potato brother" in the letter and said, "I know you medics from Tianjin have been in Enshi for some time. What I am doing bears no comparison to what you have done for us."

"Potato brother" also said in the letter that they can both enjoy special local products, such as Tianjin steamed buns and fried dough twists, as well as Enshi potatoes, to toast to the victory over the epidemic and our brotherhood.

Yet the unique gifts were declined by Shi Shixiang, an official with the frontline headquarters of Tianjin's pairing-up forces, on behalf of Tianjin medics.

"We learned that these shoes are usually given to distinguished guests, but it is the principle that we take nothing from local people," Shi said, noting that they would take the heart-warming gifts as motivation for their anti-virus fight in Enshi.

The "potato brother," whose real name is Tan Zuyue, who was born and raised in a Tujia village and suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest in 2016.

"It was the doctors who saved me from death and gave me a second life," Tan said, who came up with the idea of sending gifts to the Tianjin medics.

"The idea was simple. I hope that they could wear the shoes to relieve the fatigue after days of hard work," Tan said. Although he did not know the name of each team member, he would remember this timely aid.

"We all want to do something for the medics. I'm not alone," he said, noting that many Tujia people have found different ways to express their gratitude.

Tan said he hoped that the declined gifts can be brought to welfare institutions in Tianjin to continue the friendship of ethnic groups there.

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

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