Old links can help to forge mod­ern friend­ships

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

I in­ter­viewed dozens of descen­dents and friends of Fly­ing Tiger pi­lots, and mem­bers of the Fly­ing Tigers’ His­tor­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion who vis­ited the newly opened her­itage park in Gui-lin. Many of them were re­tired US Air Force pi­lots.

Their emo­tional at­tach­ment to the relics left by the Fly­ing Tigers and to the peo­ple of Guilin, who helped to res­cue the US pi­lots or build the park, plus the hos­pi­tal­ity they re­ceived in re­turn left me with the deep im­pres­sion that in­ter­per­sonal con­tacts and friend­ships should form the foun­da­tions of Sino-US re­la­tions.

Be­cause of the ge­o­log­i­cal dis­tance, lan­guage bar­rier and cul­tural dif­fer­ences, Chi­nese and US na­tion­als view one an­other through the lens of the me­dia, rather than faceto-face con­tact.

China’s re­la­tion­ship with the United States has ex­pe­ri­enced many ups and downs since World War II. The me­dia agenda on both sides has been greatly in­flu­enced by th­ese changes, and the coun­tries’ views of each other have also been par­tially shaped by the me­dia.

The two coun­tries com­bined to fight the Ja­panese in the 1940s, fought each other in the Korean War (1950-53), re­garded each an­other as ide­o­log­i­cal foes in the 1960s, and be­came friends in the 1970s and 1980s.

Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the Sino- US re­la­tion­ship has been shaped more by eco­nomic and trade ties than by pol­i­tics.

In Guilin, most of the one-on-one chats be­tween the US vis­i­tors and the lo­cal res­i­dents af­ter the open­ing cer­e­mony were con­ducted in English, Chi­nese, and body lan­guage, which re­quired no in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

Most of the peo­ple in at­ten­dance were aged from 60 to 80, and it seemed to me that they de­rived great en­joy­ment from their per­sonal con­tacts, find­ing more com­mon ground than dif­fer­ences. Some even hugged each other with tears run­ning down their faces.

As a re­porter for an English-lan­guage Chi­nese news­pa­per, I have of­ten writ­ten ar­ti­cles about the lack of trust be­tween the gov­ern­ments and mil­i­taries of China and the US.

The two coun­tries should strengthen per­son-to-per­son ex­changes and con­tracts. They should build mu­tual trust be­tween the two peo­ples, which is of­ten eas­ier than imag­ined, and lay the foun­da­tions for trust in other fields to foster mu­tual un­der­stand­ing.

As the world’s largest and sec­ond-largest economies, I think the US and China should be­come more like part­ners than imag­i­nary enemies, not only for their own in­ter­ests, but also to ben­e­fit the en­tire world.

No ob­sta­cles to­day are big­ger than the fas­cists we fought to­gether 70 years ago. If we could fight for peace and pros­per­ity like broth­ers then, why can’t we stand to­gether now and make the world a bet­ter place for the whole of hu­man­ity?

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