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Couple's 500-km hike focus of series

By WANG RU | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-10 09:47

In many places of Zhejiang province, local people were able to see an older couple-British politician Lord Michael Bates and his wife Li Xuelin-walking tirelessly along a road in August and September.

Their 500-kilometer journey on foot was recorded in a documentary series called The New Stories of Zhejiang, which premiered on Wednesday in Beijing.

The series records 58-year-old Bates and his wife hiking from Hangzhou to Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang province from Aug 19 to Sep 18 to experience Zhejiang's development.

Filmed by China Review Studio of China Report Press, the documentary is separated into three episodes and will be aired on Consumer News and Business Channel, The Wall Street Journal's website and CCTV beginning Sunday.

During the premiere, Bates said he was impressed by President Xi Jinping's saying "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets"-which he proposed in Zhejiang in 2005 when he was Party chief of the province-and how Chinese people adhered to that saying in their efforts to develop. He remembered that when they traveled to Qingtian county, they were surprised to find farmers raising carp in the terraced paddy fields.

"Local people told me carp could help eat pests and weeds in the fields, and they sell well after they lived for some time in the fields," Bates said. "Carp feces can work as a fertilizer to boost rice production. Moreover, the rice-fish coexistence system has attracted many tourists, and thus enhanced the local economy.

"The rice-fish of Qingtian provided an inspiring example of how an economic system which protects rather than exploits nature can be good for the planet and good for us."

Bates and his wife love hiking and have done so in 25 countries while talking to local people and raising funds for charitable work on the way. In the documentary, they were hiking in China for the third time, talking to people they met about changes in China over the past seven decades and collecting 1.29 million yuan ($184,000) for Zhejiang Foundation for Disabled Persons.

The journey also served as an opportunity for Bates to appreciate Chinese culture.

"As a politician, I know politics often divides, because it focuses on areas of difference between us. But culture tends to connect, because it focuses on areas we have in common, our love of food, of music, of art," he said.

Jiang Jianguo, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, said "China has so many stories, but we must find proper ways to tell them. This documentary is a good example of fine storytelling."

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