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Sci-tech ties with China a growth driver, expert says

By MO JINGXI in Beijing and HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-06 01:04

There are always some unforgettable moments in a person's life, be it long or short. For Cuban neuroscientist Pedro Antonio Valdes-Sosa, there have been three such moments so far, the latest one being when he received a reply letter from President Xi Jinping.

Valdes-Sosa, 73, is a full-time professor at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, Sichuan province. He and his co-workers use informatics and telecommunication technology to study how the brain works and try to develop techniques, instruments and procedures to help detect brain diseases at an early date.

In September, the Cuban scientist told Xi in a letter about his team's achievements in promoting brain science research. He also expressed his commitment to continue enhancing the China-Cuba friendship and contributing to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative on a larger scale in the world.

In his reply letter to Valdes-Sosa, Xi said that international scientific and technological cooperation is a major trend, and countries should jointly promote the cause of peace and development for humanity through scientific and technological innovation.

"When I read the letter, what impressed me most is the way President Xi captured the essence of what I was interested in writing to him about. It was the importance of science and technology for the future of China, Cuba and the world, and also the role the BRI can play," the scientist said.

When he was 6 years old, his parents told him that the main purpose of a person's life is to serve humanity. That was the first unforgettable moment in his life, Valdes-Sosa said, adding that he has always devoted himself to working for the good of humanity.

The second important moment in his life came when former Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave Valdes-Sosa and his twin brother the responsibility of developing new techniques to diagnose neurological disorders in both Cuba and Latin America.

In 1990, Valdes-Sosa co-founded the Cuban Neuroscience Center, which was one of the first in the world that developed computerized electroencephalography systems. He visited China for the first time the same year and became a frequent visitor since.

"I have seen the changes. I'm seeing a society where people are happier, a society that is developing, not only in science and technology, but (also) is preserving its own culture and is increasing the quality of life of people," he said.

Valdes-Sosa worked in Beijing before he made Chengdu his home in 2015 with his wife, Maria Luisa Bringas-Vega, also a scientist.

In his reply letter, Xi said the starting point and focus of the BRI are to explore new ways of common development among different countries and to open up a "road to happiness" that benefits all nations and the world.

"After each of these (unforgettable) moments, what I feel is a sense of responsibility. The mission (of serving humanity) was given to me by my parents, and then reinforced by Fidel. Now, President Xi says we can do this work for humanity through the BRI on a much wider scale," Valdes-Sosa said.

Noting that China-Cuba cooperation has yielded many results that brought benefits to the health of their peoples, the Cuban neuroscientist said it is the right time for the two countries to start helping other nations together.

"Never in the history of humanity has there been an effort to help other countries like the BRI. I wrote the letter from the bottom of my heart to express my admiration, and I never expected such a quick and kind response," he said, adding that he was willing to work more to turn Xi's vision into reality.

Valdes-Sosa said the Chengdu-based university is proposing the establishment of a Belt and Road joint laboratory that aims to improve the socioeconomic conditions of participating countries through the application of scientific and technological advances.

He said that even though some countries are rich and resourceful, they tend to make only empty promises and fail to use the results of science to improve people's lives.

"President Xi has been very clear that one of the main elements of the development of any society is the development of science and technology. This has been demonstrated in China and is being extended through the BRI," he said, underscoring that the initiative offers a concrete way to drive the development of other countries.

Valdes-Sosa admitted that this is not an easy task, given the different conditions of BRI countries. However, one must not "get discouraged because something that's worthwhile doing is difficult", he said.

Contact the writers at mojingxi@chinadaily.com.cn

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