On Nov. 19, 2012, Chinese Consul General Gao Zhansheng delivered a key-note speech at Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, UC Davis, where he shared with the students and faculty the touching story of Guling, first brought to the American public by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in his speech during his U.S. visit this past February.
“The most touching part of it is,” Consul General Gao said, “the spirit of homely goodwill and genuine affection lies in the heart of hundreds of millions of Chinese and Americans; it is always there, no matter how much our two countries have been evolving and changing. It binds our countries even closely together in spite of cultural differences and ideological gaps. It gives our state-to-state relationship a very strong foundation going into the future.”
He went on to recount the unexpected and dramatic encounter between two Chinese and US table tennis players four decades ago, known today as Ping Pong Diplomacy.
“These two stories are a great validation of the importance of people-to-people exchanges. No doubt our politicians are essential in growing our relationship, but the work to strengthen our ties should not just happen at the White House or within the walls of Zhongnanhai. It is also about relationships between our people. It is their convictions, talents, passions and hard work that make this relationship far deeper and more resilient, vigorous and durable.” He said.
Consul General Gao reviewed the productive results of the three meetings of the China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), notably in the areas of education, and youth. He then expanded the topic to include the overall China-US relations over the last four decades.
“I encourage young people in both countries to make the most of their talents, actively participate in our people-to-people exchanges and our joint exploration to build a new-type China-US relationship and defy skeptics who only see limitations and challenges, where opportunities are so much more abundant.”
He closed by quoting Helen Keller’s words: it is not possible for civilization to flow backwards while there is youth in the world. “The future direction of China-US relations is not preordained; it is in our hands, and soon will be in your hands-to guild, shape and lead. I am sure you will make a difference. “
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, after listening to the speech that Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping delivered during his US visit this February, wrote to the Chinese leader, saying the story he recounted of the late Milton Gardner, a beloved physics professor in UC Davis for more than 30 years, was “extremely heartwarming and wonderful”.
“Your efforts in 1992 to help Elizabeth Gardner visit the small village Milton remembered so fondly from the years he spent as a child was a powerful example of how relations between China and the United States can be advanced by one-to-one acts of kindness and generosity such as those you displaced toward this American Family.” The Chancellor said in the letter.
Vice President Xi Jinping soon wrote back, saying: “Amity between people is what underpins good relations between countries. I hope UC Davis will continue to support and promote China-US cultural and people-to-people ties, especially exchanges and cooperation in education, science and technology, and play an active role in building Sino-US friendship.”
Consul General Gao’s speech was part of the “International Education Week” held in UC Davis. The Mayor of Davis Joe Krovoza, UC Davis Vice Provost William Lacy and more than 100 students and faculty were present at the event.