Xi Story: Thick love encased in thin envelopes from overseas Chinese

Xinhua News

Source: XinhuaEditor: huaxia2023-05-09 22:40:15

Xinhua News

BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) — “A letter from family worth ten thousand in silver.” This line from ancient poet Du Fu (712-770) reflects the deep emotions that the Chinese people have for their family and homeland.

More than a century ago, when emails and WeChat did not exist, overseas Chinese had to find ways to send messages back home. “Qiaopi”, a unique form of mail that serves as both a letter and a remittance, emerged and exhibited overseas Chinese’s love for their family and native country while recording history. Today, these yellowed pieces of mail have become a national cultural treasure.

In 2004, a museum dedicated to Qiaopi opened in Shantou City. Even with a tight schedule during his inspection tour in the southern province of Guangdong in 2020, President Xi Jinping visited the museum.

Lin Qingxi, then curator of the museum, introduced the history of Qiaopi and the culture of overseas Chinese from Chaozhou and Shantou regions to Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Shantou is the hometown of a significant number of overseas Chinese. The Opium War of 1840 and ensuing wars of aggression launched by Western powers plunged China into a tragic state of turmoil, and many people in the coastal areas of southeast China sailed abroad to make a living, mainly to countries in Southeast Asia. Then the special correspondence featuring both text and money was born.

In the museum’s exhibition hall, Xi carefully examined the letters from a bygone era and listened to Lin’s explanation about how they were transported from overseas to a distribution center in Shantou, and ultimately delivered to their intended recipients. Lin also shared touching stories associated with the letters.

The letters sent by the overseas Chinese spanned over a century, encompassing China’s revolution, construction and reform periods. Through their letters, these individuals and households shared their concerns during times of peril and expressed their joy as the country grew stronger.

“These letters recorded the strenuous efforts of the old generation of overseas Chinese and their profound love for the hometown and the motherland, and embodied the credibility and integrity of the Chinese nation,” Xi said during the visit.

He emphasized the importance of preserving these precious materials and strengthening study in this regard, calling for efforts to remind people of the nation’s humiliating sufferings in modern history and promote integrity in society.

After his visit to the museum, Xi was warmly greeted by residents of the neighborhood as he walked down the street.

“The contributions of numerous overseas Chinese are an inseparable part of the reform, opening up, and development of the country,” he told the crowd.

Overseas Chinese endured enormous hardships and worked very hard to survive in a foreign country, and after gaining a firm foothold, they sent every dime saved back home, Xi said. “It represents the Chinese people, Chinese culture, Chinese spirit and Chinese heart.”

The motherland cares about its overseas sons and daughters, too. “The tens of millions of overseas Chinese across the world are all members of the Chinese family,” Xi had once said.

“We need to expand our ties with overseas Chinese, overseas Chinese nationals who have returned to China, and relatives of overseas Chinese nationals who live in China, and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests, encourage them to actively participate in and support the modernization and peaceful reunification of China, and support their efforts to promote cultural exchange between China and other countries,” Xi said in a speech in 2014.

In the report delivered at the 20th National Congress of the CPC last year, Xi pledged to improve and strengthen the work related to Chinese nationals overseas to give shape to a powerful joint force for advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

On Monday, Xi welcomed representatives to the 10th Conference for Friendship of Overseas Chinese Associations at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and extended sincere greetings to overseas Chinese around the world. ■

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