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Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Cong Peiwu at the Reception Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of Dr. Norman Bethune's Death

Distinguished guests,

Dear friends,

Good evening! Today we gather here to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dr. Norman Bethune’s death. After listening to the speeches just now and seeing the distinguished guests present, I have three pictures in my mind.

The first is a picture of history. In 1938, Dr. Bethune made light of travelling thousands of miles to help the Chinese people in our War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, an important part of the World Anti-Fascist war. Unfortunately, Bethune died of a blood infection while operating on wounded soldiers in 1939. The Chinese leader Mao Zedong wrote the well-known essay In Memory of Norman Bethune, in which he praised Dr. Bethune’s spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism. Norman Bethune has become a household name since then and many Chinese began to know about a distant country, Canada, and have friendly sentiments towards the Canadian people.

The second is a realistic grand picture. In the past 80 years, Dr. Bethune’s spirit has not disappeared with the passage of time, but has been inherited and carried forward in both China and Canada. Medical workers in both countries have been inspired to save lives and treat the injured, and provide professional medical services for the people of the two countries. In recent years, such organizations as Bethune Medical Development Association of Canada, Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance, People Inspired by Norman Bethune have been set up in Canada. They have organized many medical teams to provide medical services free of charge in remote areas of China. These medical workers sacrificed their valuable time and overcome the fatigue of long flights and jet lag. They started to work upon their arrival in China and many of them even flew to China at their own expense. They are “Norman Bethunes” in our time.

China has been actively advocating the spirit of Dr. Bethune. President Xi Jinping has called on the Chinese people to take him as a role model and try to be a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests. A vast number of medical workers in China take Dr. Bethune as an example, devote themselves to the medical services with selfless spirit. And there are a lot of touching stories. Since 1963, the Chinese government has sent medical teams to over 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, America, and Oceania, with a total of more than 26,000 medical workers. They have treated a total of more than 280 million cases. Among these medical workers, many volunteered to serve in the areas of danger and hardship and dozens of them gave their lives.

The last one is a picture of the future. Norman Bethune is not only a normal name but also a symbol of internationalism, humanitarianism,  selfless dedication, and China-Canada friendly relations. We commemorate Dr. Bethune not only to remember his touching stories, but also to inspire more people to inherit his spirit. I am happy to see that many young friends are present here today. I am also glad to learn that more and more young Canadians are interested in China and many of them are learning Chinese language. I hope that you will carry forward the spirit of Dr. Bethune and make positive contributions to promoting China-Canada friendly relations and the development of mankind. I am confident that the spirit of Dr. Bethune will be passed down from generation to generation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Although China and Canada are separated by the Pacific Ocean , our two peoples have always had friendly feelings for each other. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1970, China-Canada relations have generally maintained a momentum of growth. This conforms to the common interests of the two peoples. The current China-Canada relations, however, are faced with difficulties due to reasons known to all. We are saddened by this unfortunate situation, but China shall not be the one to blame. We urge the Canadian side to take necessary measures as soon as possible to solve the problem and create conditions for bilateral relations to go back to the right track.

Although I have been in Canada for just one month, I have already found that many Canadians care a lot about China-Canada relations and commit to promoting the friendship between the two countries. I hope all of you here today will, as always, support the development of our bilateral ties. This is the best way to commemorate Dr. Norman Bethune.

Thank you!

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