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Xi urges youths of China, US to bolster bonds

By  ZHANG YUNBI and HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-25 01:12
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Guests from the United States attend a ceremony to unveil the Bond with Kuliang China-US Friendship Woods in Fuzhou, Fujian province, on Monday. The event was part of the ongoing Bond with Kuliang: 2024 China-US Youth Festival. [Photo by Hu Meidong / China Daily]

Young people are energetic and full of dreams, and "the future of China-United States relations lies in young people", President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message he sent to the Bond with Kuliang: 2024 China-US Youth Festival, which opened in Fuzhou, Fujian province, and for which hundreds of young people from both nations have gathered for exchanges. The event is scheduled to run through Sunday.

Kuliang is a famous summer retreat in the mountainous outskirts of Fuzhou, the capital of the southeastern coastal province.

Over a century ago, foreigners living in or near Fuzhou built villas in Kuliang, enabling harmonious coexistence with local villagers.

In his message, Xi noted that the century-long bond with Kuliang is a story of friendly exchanges between the peoples of China and the US.

The president said he is pleased to see young people from all walks of life in China and the US gather in Fuzhou to revisit the story of Kuliang, pass down the bond of Kuliang and help enhance exchanges and understanding between the two peoples.

It is hoped that Chinese and US youths will have in-depth exchanges, bolster friendship, know each other well and work hand in hand to carry forward China-US friendship, he said.

Xi added that he expects the young people to contribute to the sound and steady growth of China-US relations, and work with people around the world to build on peace, promote progress and create prosperity.

More than 200 young people from 29 states and more than a dozen sectors in the US were invited to meet with over 300 young Chinese people at the festival.

Around 50 exchange activities will be held during the festival, including dialogues, roundtable discussions, documentary screenings, art salons, concerts and friendly sports matches, as well as opportunities to experience intangible cultural heritage.

After listening to Xi's message, which was read out on Monday at the opening ceremony of the festival, Anna O'Connor, an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa and a festival participant, said "it is very interesting to hear that he is very involved with this festival and how he cares to bring ties together with the US".

"It's really important for young people to be involved and pay attention to what's happening around the world and just foster bonds that will create peace," she said.

In order for young people to get along well in an era of social networks and artificial intelligence technology, it is crucial to "communicate and bond with people and make sure you're getting their stories in a face-to-face format", O'Connor said.

Yang Wanming, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said, "This event is the largest in scale and richest in terms of form and content (among the events of its kind) since the establishment of China-US diplomatic relations."

The festival is also a signature program to fulfill the major proposal made by Xi last year to invite 50,000 young people from the US to visit China for exchanges and study over the next five years, he added.

Mira Vance, a US student at Peking University's Yenching Academy, said she "very much agrees with" Xi's high hopes on youth exchanges.

"As people get older, it's kind of more difficult to change perception and to adapt to something new", and it is a really wonderful opportunity to step in now before perceptions get cemented, she said.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the festival in a prerecorded video message, Xie Feng, Chinese ambassador to the US, noted that various departments of the two sides have been earnestly implementing the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and China-US relations have shown a stabilizing trend, which "has been welcomed by all walks of life in the two countries and by the international community".

Lisa Heller, US consul general in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, told the young participants at the ceremony that her own life "has been dedicated to diplomacy, but for many of you, your future may be education, journalism or business".

"Whatever field you choose, China is almost certain to be an important asset of that undertaking," she said.

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