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Xi's letter encourages us to continue dialogue and tackle challenges in China-US relation, says US foundation

“We felt encouraged by President Xi’s responses to our letter. It was nice to see that he himself recognizes the importance people like Helen play in US-China relations,” Adam Foster, Chairman of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, said in a recent interview with GDToday & Newsgd.com, after having received Chinese President Xi Jinping’s reply to his letter.

In his letter to Foster, sent on January 27, Xi highly appreciates the positive contributions made by the Helen Foster Snow family to the development of China-US relations over the years. He expressed his hope that Foster and the foundation will continue to follow the example of the Snows and make new contributions to enhancing the friendship and cooperation between the Chinese and American people. 

Foster is a great-nephew of Helen Foster Snow, a Utah-born, late author and journalist known for her writings on the Communist Party of China (CPC) before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. She was once married to Edgar Snow, the first Western journalist to interview the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong and writer of the classic “Red Star Over China”, which gives a rare and detailed account of the Chinese revolution in the 1930s.

Edgar and Helen Snow. (Photo: helenfostersnow.org)

Cutting off communication is a wrong approach

In his letter to President Xi, Foster recalled the contributions made by Helen Foster Snow to enhancing people-to-people exchanges between China and the US. He also vowed to carry forward Helen’s spirit of promoting friendship and cooperation between the people of the two countries.

Edgar and Helen Snow actively promoted the Chinese Gong He (Gung Ho) movement of industrial cooperatives. (Photo: helenfostersnow.org)

“Right now, there’s probably a push to cut off relationships, as far as communication is concerned. You see that a lot in the media,” Foster said.

From the trade conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic to the US-led diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the tension between China and the US has been a hot topic across the world.

The Pew Research Center has carried out a range of surveys on the bilateral relations as well as China’s global images. Based on their results, American nationals at large tend to support a tough stance towards China.

However, the public sentiment for China in the US is far more diverse, while American nationals’ interest in developing the relationship is growing, from the observation of Foster. “People want to get the facts. They want the right story,” he furthered.

Foster considered people’s concerns about China’s growing role in the world come from misunderstanding, which should be bridged through dialogue and exchanges.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics provides an opportunity for worldwide athletes to come and see the real China. Among them, many American athletes, such as Tessa Maud and Aaron Blunck, have been amazed by Chinese COVID-19 countermeasures and the hospitality of Chinese people.

“I think I had a similar experience,” Foster recalled. “When you get to know the Chinese people, you fall in love with them. They’re just fantastic.”

Dialogue expected for mutually beneficial outcomes

Helen Foster Snow was one of the first to start the dialogue between Chinese and American people. “She called her life bridging. Her life was a bridge to the future and between the countries,” Foster said.

In June 1996, Helen became the first American to be honored by China as a Friendship Ambassador. (Photo: helenfostersnow.org)

In Helen’s times, being such a bridge was never easy. “There were a lot of misperceptions. Anyone associated with China or having been to China was under investigation,” Foster elaborated.

But today’s circumstances are different. “We have businesses, colleges, universities and organizations that interact with each other across the ocean every day,” Foster said.

In 2021, the trade between China and the US has increased by nearly 30 percent, reaching 755.6 billion USD. According to the Open Doors 2021 Report on International Educational Exchange, more than 317 thousand Chinese students enrolled in the US institutions in 2020/2021, making China still the number one source of international students in the US. Meanwhile, the US hosted the largest number of Chinese students studying outside of China.

To further open up channels of communication between the two countries, Foster’s foundation is promoting Chinese language learning and education exchanges in Utah, where there are one quarter of the total number of Chinese language learners in the US. In addition, cultural and sub-national exchanges have also been facilitated.

Adam Foster coordinates Helen Foster Snow Foundation activities with professors from Northwest University. (Photo provided to Newsgd.com)

In Foster’s view, people to people exchanges are the remedy for the intense bilateral relations. He believes mutual understandings lie in the understanding of the commonality between average Americans and average Chinese people.

“When I visited China and met friends there, I started to realize that we’re not very different from each other: Our sense of humor was the same; the beliefs and goals that we have are alike as well,” Foster said.

Therefore, by writing the letter, he hopes to extend a hand of friendship and tell the people in China: “We’re here. We care very deeply about the US-China relationship, and we want to continue that.”

Author | Lydia Liu

Video Script | Lydia Liu, Jasmine

Video Editor | Chen Weifeng

Graphic Designer | Mia

Editor | Zhao Yang, Wing, Steven, Jasmine, Jerry

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