ord Michael Bates claims he isn’t a person who enjoys walking, because one needs to stay absolutely fit to do so regularly.
But in the past five years, the former juniorhomeminister of Britain has visited 23 countries, covering more than 12,000 kilometers on foot.
He walks for peace so that understanding among different nations can grow.
“If I have a purpose, then I can go incredible distance,” Bates, 55, says during a recent interviewin Beijing.
Since 2011, he has used the summer recess in the British parliament, of which he is a member, to walk long distances, raising public awareness on various issues and collecting funds for various charities.
InMarch, Bates resigned from the British government to undertake a 115-day journey from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, calling on countries to implement the Olympic truce ahead of the Games in Rio in August.
His bookWalk forPeace, based on a 71-day journey from Beijing to Hangzhou in 2015, will be published in China by the end of the month.
It will be partly in English and partly in Chinese.
The walk was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and to highlight the first UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.
Setting off from the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on July 27, 2015, Bates hiked some 1,700 km to the eastern city ofHangzhou and raised $110,000 for the Red Cross in China.
In the book, he writes about the kindness of the local people, his observations in different cities on the way, the beauty of the countrysideandhis thoughtsonthe cultural differences between China and his home country.
President Xi Jinping praised Bates for trying to spread the word of peace through his walking, during his speech to the British parliament last year.
“Originally, the walk in China was planned from Beijing to Nanjing, but we arrived in Nanjing a little bit earlier. So my wife, Xuelin, asked: ‘Can you just walk down to my hometown in Hangzhou?’” recalls Bates.
“So I walk from Beijing toNanjing for peace and Nanjing to Hangzhou for love.”
His wife, Li Xuelin, was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and went to Britain in 1989 to study architecture. Now, her real estate business there is successful and she is work.
The couple met during a charity event in 2011, when Bates was preparing for his first major hike from Olympia in Greece to London, campaigning for peace ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.
Li decided to help him with the walk and the journey brought the two hearts together.
In a previous interview with Beijing-based magazineWomen of China, Li said she was attracted to Bates by his perseverance during the walk and his commitment to world peace.
“On New Year’s Eve, he took a day also involved with charity
Michael Bates meets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva in October 2011. Bates was halfway through a 4,800-kilometer walk from Greece to London, calling upon countries to implement the Olympic truce.