"The hope and foundation of the China-U.S. relationship lie in the people, and its future lies in the youths," Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his reply to a letter from the U.S.-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friendly personages from all walks of life in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington.
Xi's heartfelt reply has deeply resonated with Americans, invoking memories of how the Chinese president personally promoted the development of the China-U.S. friendly relations.
HOPE ANCHORED IN PEOPLE
"Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states," said Xi in many speeches, adding that the relationship between nations ultimately hinges on the relationship between their people.
Upon hearing the remarks from the news, David Chong, founder and president of the U.S.-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, said that he and his like-minded friends felt very excited and decided to write a letter to the Chinese president.
In 2015, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan toured Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington State, during his visit to the United States. Inside the school auditorium, they enjoyed a choir performance by Chinese and American students.
"We chose to perform a song named 'On the Field of Hope,' which embodies the Chinese people's faith and love for the future, and we deeply resonated with it," said Maurice Chong, member of Lincoln High School's choir at the time.
"President Xi once again mentioned in his message that the hope and foundation of the China-U.S. relationship lie in the people. We firmly believe in this," he said.
Xi's reply shows that China is always willing to maintain the channels for people-to-people exchanges, said Xie Tao, dean of School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
People from various sectors in the United States are welcomed to visit China, experience the country firsthand, and contribute to getting China-U.S. relations back on track, said Xie.
FOUNDATION LIES IN PEOPLE
When meeting with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in June, Xi said the foundation of China-U.S. relations lies in the people. "We have always placed our hope on the American people and wish all the best for the friendship between the two peoples," Xi said.
Several friendly Americans who co-signed the letter to Xi said they wholeheartedly agreed with the view and pledged to help strengthen people-to-people exchanges.
They vividly remember Xi gave table tennis equipment to the students at Lincoln High School in 2015. "The gift has sparked a growing popularity of table tennis among our city's youth, further strengthening our shared cultural ties," they said.
Sending a congratulatory letter to China-U.S. People-to-People Friendship Forum, replying to the pupils at Cascade Elementary School in the U.S. state of Utah, and replying to the students of Niles North High School in the U.S. state of Illinois are just few examples of Xi's personal efforts to promote friendly exchanges between Chinese and American people, which have strengthened public support for China-U.S. friendship.
Calling people-to-people exchanges an important component of bilateral ties, Xie said more flights and tourists, more students and scholars traveling across the Pacific would mean a stronger foundation and greater potential for the development of bilateral relations.
"People-to-people exchanges have always been a foundation of President Xi Jinping's foreign policy, from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to China-U.S. relations," Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, recently told Xinhua.
Such exchanges are "the foundation of how independent countries with independent interests can best build common understanding and mutual appreciation," said Kuhn.
FUTURE DEPENDS ON YOUTH
During the visit to Lincoln High School in 2015, Xi said he would like to invite 100 students from the school to visit China the next year. In 2016, 118 students and teachers from the school visited Chinese cities including Fuzhou, Chengdu and Beijing.
Lincoln High School Principal Patrick Erwin said that Xi's visit dazzled the students and their ensuing trip to China changed their lives forever, with some making plans to study in China.
Students from Lincoln High School are also among the American youths who recently wrote the joint letter to Xi. "President Xi's visit to Lincoln High School planted the seeds of China-U.S. friendship deep in the hearts of the students," said Maurice Chong.
In his reply, Xi said he hopes more youths from China and the United States can get to know each other, move forward together, become a new generation of ambassadors for bilateral friendship, and continuously inject impetus into the development of bilateral ties.
Established eight years ago, the U.S.-China Youth and Student Exchange Association has organized many American high school students to visit China. Through the exchanges, the American youths have learned about China's history and culture as well as the daily life and customs of the Chinese people.
"Through the exchanges, the friendship between the young people of China and the United States has grown, and the understanding and respect for each other deepened," said David Chong.
Wang Dong, executive director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding at Peking University, said that young people believe in the future.
Xi's reply has demonstrated his great vision for China-U.S. relations and his expectations for the friendship between the two peoples, said Wang.
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