Michael Bates has walked 12,000 kilometers in 23 countries to spread the word of peace. Xing Yi meets the former British minister in Beijing.
off from the walk and we went to Paris,” Li said of the time Bates proposed to her. “Under the Eiffel Tower when the New Year bells rang, he knelt down.”
During their wedding in 2012, they set up Walk for Peace foundation, and those invited to their party camewith donations for the foundation rather than personal gifts for the couple.
The next year, they planned a walk from London to Derry in Northern Ireland and raised $61,000 for Save the Children’s work in Syria. In 2014, they also planned one from London to Berlin for the FirstWorldWar Centenary and raised $49,000 for the German charity Peace Village International.
“She goes ahead and plans the way, and stays behind and pays the bills,” Bates says of Li.
“For all the walks we do ... everything that we raise goes to the charity.”
Their effort was recognized byUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach and Queen Elizabeth II.
Through his words and deeds, Bates wants to encourage young people to go with their dreams and become the change they want to see in the world.
“People say that certain things are impossible,” he told an audience of young people at a speech during his recent Beijing visit. “But if you really believe in something and you are doing it for the right motives, then you can achieve it.”
He says he has had more success in advancing the Olympic truce through his walks than with his speeches, meetings or letters as a member of parliament.
“The great thing about walking is that I may not be able to do 1,000 miles every year, but I could do 10 or 100 miles.”
Michael Bates and his wife, Li Xuelin, on their journey in China in 2015. The 1,700-kilometer walk from Beijing to Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and to highlight the first UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.