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China Daily (USA) - - LIFE -

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.

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