Ambassador Yuan Nansheng: China Dream of Peace on the Diplomatic Stage

Author:Yuan Nansheng Date:2014-05-21

China Dream of Peace on the Diplomatic Stage, written by Ambassador Yuan Nansheng, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, is included in the 100 People’s China Dream, Hunan Education Press, 2014.

China dream cannot be realized without a favorable international environment. China’s diplomatic people take it their vocation to strive to achieve China dream of peace, which is a major part of China dream. Since October of 2000 when I was transferred from Hunan province to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I have been working continuously in the diplomatic arena for 14 years. During these years, in terms of the realization of China dream, I have experienced a series of great events which have also arosed me to think a lot.

China dream is a dream of cooperation. The realization of China dream of peace relies on a long-term mutual benefit and win-win. The realization of China dream and diplomatic dream are interdependent and mutually promotive, which is the basis of mutual benefit. Therefore, the realization of China dream cannot be simply described as the maximization of China’s benefits. Your benefits are maximized, then what about other ones’ benefits? China dream of peace is to achieve a win-win situation for bilateral and multilateral benefits. During my post as the Chinese Ambassador to Surinam, I helped Broad Homes Industrial Co. Ltd. from Changsha of Hunan province to set up factories in Surinam. As the largest housing construction project overseas for Chinese enterprises, the entire project, with a worth of USD 70 billion, has built low-cost prefabricated housing with a local construction of 18,000 units and an export to Brazil of 200,000 units, not only resolving the housing difficulties of Surinam and improving local employment and income but also promoting the development of Chinese enterprises. At the same time, I helped Hunan Longping High-tech Group to make an agreement on introducing hybrid rice into Suriname and establishing an agricultural cooperation park in Surinam by Hunan province and Surinam, marking the first time of hybrid rice of Hunan been introduced to the Caribbean region.

For another example, during my post as ambassador to Zimbabwe, a severe economic crisis took place there and Zimbabwe’s output of tobacco continued to decline. The embassy supported Chinese enterprises to promote tobacco contracting planting, in which the Chinese lent tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe seeds, fertilizers and tractors, etc. while the tobacco farmers repaid the loan with tobaccos, not only addressing the urgent needs of tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe and providing tangible support for the economy of Zimbabwe, but also meeting China's demand for tobacco. As a result, Chinese tobacco companies left their rivals from other countries far behind, becoming the top tobacco buyer in Zimbabwe.

China dream is a dream of innovation. The realization of China dream of peace relies on an overall view of diplomatic innovation. The world is developing. To adapt to this development, the diplomatic thoughts, ways and means are also developing. Diplomatic innovation is one of the prerequisites for the realization of China dream of peace. I still remember several examples of diplomatic innovation during my service abroad:

The first is the innovation in lady diplomacy. During our time in Zimbabwe, my wife He Lina helped me promote President Mugabe’s wife Grace to learn Chinese. Every week, teachers from People’s University of China gave her lessons of six hours. Later she received an undergraduate diploma in Chinese language of the People’s University. After the earthquake in Wenchuan, she wrote a letter of sympathy in Chinese. During my post in Surinam, my wife and I encouraged the president’s wife Ingrid, vice president’s wife Ameerali and the foreign minister’s wife Larkin to study Chinese. Teachers from Shandong Polytechnic University gave lessons respectively in the president’s residence and the vice president’s residence twice a week. My wife accompanied them during the lessons. So far, there are only two first ladies learning Chinese. Accompanied by my wife during the classes, they actually became “classmates”. Inspired by the first lady, studying Chinese came into fashion in Zimbabwe. The transportation minister Mushohwe and other officials learnt Chinese. Daughter of the president of senate Madzongwe and other senior officials’ children took part in the student performances of the Confucius Institute, singing Chinese songs.

The second is the innovation in diplomacy related to Taiwan, or the innovation in the way of cross-strait cooperation. When I served as the ambassador in Zimbabwe, I strived to promote the cross-strait cooperation in building an orphanage. Master Huili, a Taiwanese, helped the president's wife establish an orphanage which can accommodate a thousand orphans in Zimbabwe and culture them into Buddhists. The president’s wife, Master Huili and I reached a consensus that Huili is responsible for the construction of the orphanage and the room and board of the orphans; the Chinese mainland is responsible for the education, including providing Chinese language teacher, inviting monks reading Buddhist scriptures from Shanxi and inviting Shaolin monks to teach martial arts in Zimbabwe. The president’s wife inspected the project of the orphanage with me and donated one of her family farms to it. China constructed an orphanage school which can hold 800 people to support the orphanage. Enterprises such as the Zimbabwe company of SINOSTEEL, Taishan Fiberglass Inc. and Huawei also offered help such as network and telecommunication facilities. 

The third is the innovation in charitable diplomacy. According to the report of Herald of Zimbabwe, it is one of the countries with the highest HIV infection rates and mortality rates, the average daily death toll reaching 500 people and AIDS orphans reaching one million. In 2008 I paid a visit to Croshere school, where there were 136 orphans in a school of 500 people. The embassy initiated a love and care campaign among Chinese businessmen to adopt 3000 orphans. My wife and I adopted three orphans while staff of the embassy adopted 100 ones. Huawei and China National Tobacco Corporation each were responsible for one orphanage. The family of the president of Chinese Chamber of Commerce adopted 15 orphans. I paid several in-depth visits to give condolences to AIDS patients, orphans and the disabled ones and invited AIDS patients and orphans to my residence. I am the first ambassador who went into the groups of AIDS patients and invited 20 of them home to be guests. The president, prime minister and the speaker of the parliament of Zimbabwe were most complimentary about it. The local media said Chinese businessmen was the first foreign group to initiate love and care campaign in Zimbabwe. When I left my post, the leader of Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry Enzengzha said to me: a lot of the 3000 orphans who were adopted changed their surnames to mine, becoming Stevenson • Yuan Nansheng, Robert • Yuan Nansheng, Elizabeth • Yuan Nansheng, etc. A new surname has appeared in Zimbabwe.

The fourth is to help Zimbabwe to cope with famine. In 2009, a severe famine took place in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s foreign minister Mumbengegwi had an emergency meeting with me, saying that 3.5 million people were in lack of food and people were starving to death every day. Zimbabwe hoped China to provide emergency food aid. However, even if Beijing send food immediately, considering the maritime transport which will cost one or two months, distant water won't put out a fire close at hand. Then what to do? The Embassy suggested China to donate USD 5 million and ask the food relief department of the UN to buy food in Zimbabwe’s neighboring countries such as Botswana. Then the food were packaged in bags with prints of “China Aids” and distributed directly to the victims by the UN. Zhang Yesui, the ambassador to the UN at that time made a speech on this at the UN. China’s foreign aid always follows the mode of government to government. But this time’s food aid conducted by a third party innovates the way of foreign aid.

China dream is a dream for the people. To achieve China dream of peace, we must follow a principle of fulfilling diplomatic work for the people. As China dream targets the people, to achieve China dream of peace is to better benefit the Chinese people. From my experience of diplomacy, I learned that it is important to take the following steps in realizing the goal of fulfilling diplomatic work for the people: 

1. Promote the union and integration of overseas Chinese community and help the Chinese and overseas Chinese unite together so that they will become more powerful. During the period when I served as the ambassador to Suriname, we promoted 14 overseas Chinese groups in Suriname to establish the Federation of Chinese and Overseas Chinese Societies in Suriname (the Federation) on April 8th 2010, which ended the history of 87 years of split among different societies (since 1913). The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and All China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese sent telegrams to congratulate on the founding of the Federation. So far, Suriname is the only country in which all the Chinese and overseas Chinese societies are united together. In 2010, the Women’s Federation of Chinese and Overseas Chinese in Suriname was founded with our help, ending the history of 157 years in Suriname without women’s association for the Chinese coming to the country. Wife of Suriname’s president and my wife served as co-honorary presidents of the Women’s Federation. In addition, the Chinese Enterprises Association in Suriname was established in January 2010, the first of its kind in Suriname since the country was founded 36 years ago. San Francisco Bay Area is a place where stars gather together. After I was transferred to the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, the Consulate-General has contributed a lot to helping establish the Alliance of the Chinese Arts Community in US West Coast (the Alliance) by bringing together the associations and stars from music, dancing, fine arts and film sectors in the overseas Chinese community. The Alliance has played an important role in organizing a series of events and promoting Chinese culture and arts in US West Coast area.

2. Help improve the conditions for the Chinese, overseas Chinese and Chinese enterprises to live and grow in overseas markets. In 2010, we promoted the Suriname government to determine the Spring Festival as a national holiday for Suriname. During the Spring Festival that year, a grand banquet with 198 tables was held at the same venue, bringing together more than one thousand overseas Chinese living and working in Suriname. The top officials of Suriname, including Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse and his wife, chair of Suriname Parliament, seven ministers, and a few members of the Parliament, accompanied by the Chinese diplomatic envoys to Suriname and I, were present at the banquet. It took nearly one hour for the president to propose a toast to all the guests by tables one after another. On the same day, other Chinese and overseas Chinese also held banquets to celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival, which were also joined by the dignitaries and celebrities from Suriname. The Suriname’s president and his wife congratulated the Chinese people on the Spring Festival through the Suriname’s National Television, while the local newspaper published on front page with red chromatorgraphy the Chinese New Year’s greetings of Suriname’s president to the Surinamese and Chinese people on that day. Winston Cournot Larkin, foreign minister of the Republic of Suriname, went to the embassy of the People’s Republic China in the Republic of Suriname to enjoy the New Year’s Eve dinner with the leaders of the overseas Chinese and staff of the embassy. In the capital city of Suriname, fireworks were displayed to celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival. In 2011, we promoted the Surinamese government to issue new policies on the Chinese and overseas Chinese in Suriname. The vice president of Suriname promised on behalf of the government to address the difficulty of the Chinese and overseas Chinese in obtaining visa, business license, resident visa, and in naturalization, and to amnesty the illegal Chinese immigrants who have stayed in Suriname for more than five years. As a result, about 3,000 Chinese have obtained the permanent resident cards of Suriname, and the conditions for the Chinese businesses and individuals to live, work and do business in Suriname have been significantly improved. 

3. Do good deeds for the Chinese and foreign citizens is a key aspect of fulfilling diplomatic work for the people. The American Indians are known as one of the most vulnerable groups in the world. During the period when I served as ambassador to Suriname, we have: invited the chair of American Indians Organization in Suriname to be a guest in our embassy; organized the delegation of the American Indians in Suriname to visit China for the first time, which was warmly received by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries; selected, sent and subsidized the American Indian students in Suriname to study in China for the first time; organized the American Indians in Suriname to have a get-together at the embassy for the first time; and organized the Chinese painters to draw pictures for the American Indians in Suriname for the first time. All these activities have had a positive impact in the local areas. We have also invited the wife of Suriname’s former president Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan to visit an orphanage in Suriname and donate the TV sets, refrigerators and stationeries with a value of over 10,000 US dollars to the orphanage on behalf of the overseas Chinese in Suriname. Before long, the former president’s wife led a delegation of 15 disabled Surinamese people to visit the embassy. In August 2011 when Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe was invited to visit Suriname, the embassy organized a special show for more than 700 disabled Surinamese people. Later, wife of the newly-elected Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse and wives of other seven ministers were invited to join the embassy in providing special services for orphans in Suriname. On 18 September, 2012, we promoted China Dalian International Cooperation Group and the first lady of Suriname to donate money for 200 underprivileged students in Suriname. During the Christmas Day in 2012, we invited the first lady of Suriname to attend the charity bazaar organized by the embassy. Many vulnerable people from the orphanages, nursing homes and centers for disabled people were also invited to join in this charity event. In the mean time, many arts groups including those from China, Indonesia, India, Brazil and  Haiti were organized to perform in streets or stages, and tens of thousands of people were attracted to enjoy such performances. The first lady of Suriname wrote letters of thanks to us twice, and we were also commended by the local media.

China dream is a dream of civilization. To achieve China dream of peace, we must promote cultural exchanges with other countries. It is important to enable the foreign people to understand Chinese cultural heritage, the Chinese value and rules of game. To make it happen, we need to leverage the diplomatic stages to constantly expand the influence of Chinese culture overseas. During the period when I served as the ambassador to Suriname, I promoted the founding of Art & Cultural Center of Chinese and Overseas Chinese in Suriname (the Center). In that year, the Center participated in the annual joint performances by all ethnic groups of Suriname. It not only filled the gap in this area, but was awarded the grand prize of Suriname’s President and his wife. The center also worked closely with the embassy and Office of Surinamese President to fulfill the performance tasks and promote Chinese culture. In August 2010, the first session of Chinese Food Festival successfully took place in Suriname, during which the families of the president and chair of the Parliament were invited to join in. Five famous Chinese chefs went to the local Chinese restaurants to show their excellent culinary arts and exchanged views with Surinamese peers. A cooking competition on Chinese food was organized, which attracted hundreds of local people to view the performance and enjoy the food. The event was also covered by local TV station and other media, which raised a tide of Chinese food culture. In 2013 when I was transferred to work in San Francisco, we promoted the University of California, Davis and Wuxi-based Jiangnan University to jointly run the first Confucius Institute focusing on Chinese culinary art in San Francisco. The Chinese president Xi Jinping sent a letter to congratulate on the opening of the Institute. By the end of 2013, the Consulate General in San Francisco helped the Panda Troupe launch the residence show on Chinese culture in Las Vegas. To date, more than 100 performances have been held at the same theatre, and have won the recognition of mainstream society in the United States. This is the longest show that has ever been staged by Chinese artists, the first residence show performed by the Chinese artists in Las Vegas, the largest commercial performance by Chinese artists in overseas market, as well as the Chinese show that has attracted the highest attention levels from mainstream media in the United States. This event was covered by 35 mainstream media in the United States including New York Times, and also by News Simulcast of CCTV. In diplomacy, sometimes the cultural gifts proves be more effective than the physical ones. To congratulate on the golden wedding (50th anniversary) ceremony of Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives and former speaker of the US House of Representatives, I sent her a birthday couplet which says “After half a century’s conjugal love, may love, health and happiness be always with you; following fifty years of happy days, may the couple become more successful in San Francisco”. She was deeply impressed with this unique gift.

China dream is a dream of unification. To achieve China dream of peace, we must fight against separatist movements (Taiwan Independence) and promote national reunification. China dream cannot be made possible without the unification of the motherland. To promote unification, we must, first of all, promote the integration of overseas Chinese across the Straits. In April 2013, I took office in San Francisco as consul general. In June that year, the Taiwanese flag of blue sky and white sun that has waved in the air before the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in San Francisco for nearly 100 years was lowered. I was invited to visit the Association, marking the first time for an official from the People’s Republic of China to do so. The Association works with other patriotic overseas Chinese societies to make the Association become an important platform to promote the exchange and cooperation of the people across Taiwan Straits. The historic change of the Association, as a leader among traditional overseas Chinese societies in the United States, plays a significant role in helping fight against Taiwan independence and promote reunification.

I have won trust, friendship and honor in the process of helping China realize China dream in diplomatic arena. While working in India, I was granted the Best Performing Ambassador Diplomatic Award of Excellence and the Prize in Recognition of Outstanding Achievements Made to Promote the Economic and Trade Exchange between China and India by the Indian government. While working in Zimbabwe, I met with the Zimbabwean president 36 times, so I was the diplomatic envoy who was received by the Zimbabwean president most frequently. Before I left my post as ambassador to Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean president and his wife, together with other 40 family members, gave a family banquet to send me off. I was then told by the officials from Zimbabwe that this was the first time for the president and his wife to send off an ambassador from other countries. During the period when I served as ambassador to Suriname, I have chaired four receptions marking the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which were attended by the Surinamese presidents. This record remains unbroken. Each year at my birthday, the Surinamese president and his wife sent me birthday boutiques. Before I left the post, I was awarded the President’s Palm Green Medal, which was the first and only time that Suriname has granted such a medal of highest rank to a foreigner since its founding in 1975. 

China dream is a good, true and sweet dream of the Chinese people. More importantly, it is a dream that the Chinese diplomats have been pursuing throughout their lives. As a diplomatic envoy, I am willing to make my due contributions to making China dream a reality, and I hope China dream can come true for the rest of my life.

18 May, 2014

About the author

Yuan Nansheng, born in 1954, is the consul general in San Francisco with the rank of ambassador. He concurrently serves as the director of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU). He is a PhD of law, professor and senior economist. Prior to this, he worked in the enterprises, the Party and government offices and higher education institutions in Hunan Province, China. he has written and published many books, including Stalin, Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai Shek, Famous People from Hubei and Hunan in Foreign Affairs in China, Inspirations from the Diplomacy of China over the Past Millennium, the World Misunderstood by the Chinese People, Experiencing India, Getting into Africa, Seeking Beauty in Latin America, 20 Lectures on Knowledge-based Economy, the Leadership Arts of Deng Xiaoping, Deng Xiaoping in the Eyes of Celebrities at Home and Abroad, Appreciation of Famous Couplets by Celebrities in Modern and Contemporary China, Taboo in International Trade in 100 Countries, From Lenin to Deng Xiaoping-Research on the Use of Capitalism Ideology, A Glimpse of Honest and Clean Government Overseas,  Spies during the Republic of China (1912-1949), Tragedy of Special Agents, Stories about the Special Agents during the Republic of China (1912-1949), Poems in China, Poems in Foreign Countries, Tide of Poems, Poems Written Overseas, Chinese-English Translation Dictionary on Social Idiomatic Phrases in 20th Century, and Similar English Words in Foreign Trade. He has also translated a few books, i.e., Dragon & Bear : The Whole Story of Dispute between China and Soviet; Deep in the Desert: Secrets of Chinese Atomic Bomb; Opponent and Ally: the Relations among China, US and Russia during the War Against Japanese Aggression, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping during the Cultural Revolution, Scientific Research and Revolution. 

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