Xi’s letter inspires young ‘ambassadors’ to learn Chinese, foster China-UAE exchanges

Editor’s Note:


Chinese people believe that letters are as valuable as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have been delivering the writers’ sentiments and conveying friendship and expectations.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese President, has managed to find time to reply to some letters from different sectors of society and different parts of the world despite his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with people from all walks of life on numerous occasions, part of a series of excellent stories of China in the new era. 

Therefore, the Global Times traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi’s letters to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communications with the Chinese President. 

In this installment, the Global Times talked to students and teachers in the “Hundred Schools Project” of Chinese language education in the UAE. Recently, 40 students from the project wrote letters in Chinese to President Xi to express their love for China and their hope to be a bridge between the two countries. Xi replied to their letters. In the reply letter, he said that he is pleased to see them become little ambassadors in China-UAE relations. As China and the UAE have “held hands” for 40 years, he expressed hope that the two countries will always be good friends.

A guest takes a selfie with Chinese children who participated in a cultural performance at the celebration event for the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United Arab Emirates held in Beijing on July 23, 2019. Photo: cnsphoto

A guest takes a selfie with Chinese students who participated in a cultural performance at the celebration event for the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United Arab Emirates held in Beijing on July 23, 2019. Photo: cnsphoto

Adorned with cute drawings, neat calligraphy, and words full of emotion and great enthusiasm for their Eastern neighbor and friend China, 40 Chinese-language students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently sent letters of affection in Chinese to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Let me share with you my favorite line from a poem, ‘Though miles apart, we are close at heart.’ Even though China and the UAE are thousands of miles apart, we are the best of friends!” read one letter. “I want to visit China to see the pandas eating bamboo and to become a hero at the Great Wall,” read another one.

Those 40 students are elementary and middle school students from the Hamdan Bin Zayed School and the Yas School, two demonstration schools of the “Hundred Schools Project” of Chinese language education in the UAE.

After the 40 letters traveled thousands of miles to China, Xi replied. “I have read each letter from you. From the lines and drawings, I felt all your love for Chinese culture and your expectation for friendship between the two countries,” the president said in the reply letter. 

He recalled that five years ago, he and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan jointly launched the “Hundred Schools Project” of Chinese language education in the UAE.

“Now seeing that learning Chinese has become a new trend in the UAE, and a group of little ambassadors for China-UAE exchanges, like you, have been cultivated, I’m very pleased,” Xi said.

“In your letters, you say China and the UAE have ‘held hands’ for 40 years, and hope that our two countries will always be good friends,” Xi noted, “the Chinese people also share the same wish.”

 
Common wishes 

“I was elated, especially when President Xi said he reads every letter, and President Xi is very good at grasping what we students like to do, such as climbing the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City, and seeing giant pandas. These are the common wishes mentioned by students in their letters, and President Xi has seen them all, so it feels like there is a saying, ‘What you keep in mind will come true,'” Du Qiangwei, a Chinese teacher at the Hamdan Bin Zayed School, told the Global Times.

According to Du, after receiving the news that Xi had replied to the letters, they quickly compiled a list of all the students who had written letters, and then informed them one by one, congratulating them. The project manager specially edited a long bilingual message in Arabic and English to send to the students’ parents, letting them know this news.

Du came to the UAE to teach Chinese in 2019, the first year that the “Hundred Schools Project” started. Currently, the program has more than 250 Chinese teachers. 

Du feels that her work in the UAE is like a “spark” that is “meaningful in itself.” 

Fatma Al Bastaki, the manager of the project, told the Global Times that they decided to write a letter to President Xi to express “our gratitude for his support and to share the positive impact the Chinese Language Program has had on our students.”

She noted that cultural exchanges and dialogues between China and the UAE are vital for fostering mutual understanding and respect. They provide opportunities for students and educators to learn from each other, share best practices, and build lasting relationships.

The UAE has witnessed the growth of a Chinese learning craze in recent years given the growing trade and warm relations between the two countries. Currently, about 171 schools in the UAE are offering Chinese language courses, with 71,000 students learning Chinese, according to Xinhua. 

“Learning Chinese is immensely important in today’s globalized world. It opens up opportunities for students in terms of higher education, career prospects, and cultural understanding. Chinese is a gateway to understanding one of the world’s oldest civilizations and its modern advancements,” Bastaki said.

 A Chinese teacher (center) teaches foreign tourists to experience traditional Chinese martial arts in front of the Chinese Pavilion during the the Dubai Expo 2020. Photo: cnsphoto

A Chinese teacher (center) teaches foreign tourists to experience traditional Chinese martial arts in front of the Chinese Pavilion during the Dubai Expo 2020. Photo: cnsphoto

Diverse dreams 


In the letters to President Xi, young students expressed their love for learning Chinese and their hopes of visiting China in the future, anticipating further growth in the friendship between the UAE and China.

“This year marks 40 years of hand-in-hand cooperation between China and the UAE. I want to visit China to see the pandas eating bamboo and to become ‘a hero’ at the Great Wall. When I grow up, I hope to become the UAE Ambassador to China,” wrote Hamdan, a student from the Hamdan Bin Zayed School.

The students also created beautiful drawings, including lotus flowers and pandas representing China, as well as horses and falcons beloved by Arabs.

Sheikha from Yas School depicted astronauts raising the flags of China and the UAE on the moon, symbolizing China-Arab space cooperation. 

Meanwhile, a fifth-grade student, Fatima, wrote, “I wonder if there are Chang’e and a jade rabbit on the moon. I wish to learn about space in China and then join the UAE Space Agency to travel to space.”

At Hamdan Bin Zayed School, 12th-grade student Alyazia, who has been learning Chinese for 13 years since kindergarten, shared her pride in receiving a response from President Xi, celebrating this joyous news with family and friends.

Alyazia plans to study nuclear engineering in China, with universities in Shanghai and Beijing as her top options. She believes Chinese will be beneficial to her future, especially in technology and communication.

“Whenever you see new technology, it’s from China, so having the ability to speak Chinese will help me in the future,” she said.

Salem, an 11th-grade student, also intends to study in China. He expressed a positive attitude toward China-Arab cultural exchanges and sees learning Chinese as beneficial to her future career, particularly in cybersecurity studies in China. 

Salem has been studying Chinese for eight years and has visited China, where he participated in cultural activities such as painting, calligraphy, and kung fu classes. 

Bashayer, an eighth-grade student who has been learning Chinese for seven years, recently attended a spring camp in China, experiencing Chinese culture and connecting with Chinese students via WeChat.

“I like it there a lot. I like speaking Chinese and improving my Chinese in China,” she told the Global Times.

Upon receiving the reply, the students expressed their excitement and joy. 

“Encouraged by President Xi’s response, I feel very happy, and my family is proud,” said Shamma, a fourth-grader, to the Global Times.

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) held in Dubai, the UAE Photo: Shan Jie/GT

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) held in Dubai, the UAE Photo: Shan Jie/GT

Solid foundation 

At the invitation of President Xi, President of the UAE Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid a state visit to China from Wednesday to Friday.  

During his visit, he attended the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum on Thursday, an important event that attracted worldwide attention and is believed to be meaningful in further developing relations between China and Arab countries, and injecting stability into the world.

In the meeting with the UAE President, Xi said that the UAE is an important comprehensive strategic partner of China. In recent years, China-UAE relations have maintained a sound momentum of development, setting a good example for China-Arab states relations in the new era.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. The relations between the two countries are increasingly warming. Experts believe that this relationship is of great importance in injecting stability to an increasingly polarized world and the two countries can have wide-ranging win-win cooperation, including in clean energy and artificial intelligence development. 

In the meeting with Xi, Mohamed said that he was very happy to once again visit China, his second hometown.

He said the relations between Arab and Gulf countries and China boast a solid foundation. “Deepening and developing relations with China conforms to the common aspiration and fundamental interests of the people of Arab and Gulf countries.”

Hand-in-hand cooperation

Hand-in-hand cooperation