News from China: Young PNG table tennis player who receives response letter from Xi welcomes further contribution to promote bilateral relations with China

File photo: Geoffrey Loi (center) training at Shanghai Sports University’s Chinese Table Tennis College in 2019. Photo: Courtesy of Loi

Editor’s note:

The Chinese believe that letters are as precious as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have delivered writers’ feelings, friendship and expectations.

Over the past decade, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to answer some letters from ordinary people despite his busy schedule.

Through his letters, Xi also corresponded many times with international friends from all walks of life, forming part of a series of excellent stories about China’s international exchanges in the new era. The letters have also added a vivid color to diplomacy between China and other countries over the past decade.

Over the past few months, Global Times reporters have tracked down and contacted some of the recipients of Xi’s letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their content.

A letter received from Xi addressed to Geoffrey Loi, a young table tennis player from Papua New Guinea (PNG), gave him a new purpose in life beyond pursuing his career in professional sports – further contribute to the friendship between China and PNG.

“Receiving the response letter and encouragement from President Xi was one of the happiest and most honorable moments of my life,” Loi told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

Mr. Loi thanked China for its contribution to the economic and social development of PNG, which has brought tangible benefits to local people, allowing them to train at the state-of-the-art campus and gymnasium with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. have access to a modern education. “I hope the true friendship between the two countries will last for a long time,” he said.

PNG was the first country in the Pacific Islands region to sign the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation Plan with China on building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation on June 21, 2018.

In deepening the friendship between China and PNG, a small table tennis ball has also become a bridge between the two countries.

In September 2019, he wrote to Xi to express deep gratitude for supporting the cause of table tennis in PNG and expressed his passion for Chinese culture and best wishes for better China-PNG relations.

In the same month, Xi sent a response letter to Loi. In his response, Xi recalled his visit to PNG last year, during which he watched Loi and his teammates train with their Chinese coach. The president congratulated the PNG table tennis team on the good results at the Pacific Games and wished Loi and the PNG team further success, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Loi met Xi in November 2018 at Butuka Academy, a PNG-China friendship school, in Port Moresby, PNG. That year, supported by Shanghai Sports University, a university table tennis center was established in the school.

After less than a year of training, in July 2019, Loi and members of her PNG table tennis team won two silver medals at the Pacific Games, setting the best record in their history at the time. eliciting enthusiastic responses from local communities.

Loi has a very deep affection for China, which was also reinforced by his trips to Shanghai to train with the PNG national table tennis team in 2018 and 2019.

“I feel very lucky and proud to have such a valuable training opportunity. As we all know, it is very difficult to beat Chinese table tennis players, but being trained by them, I have been inspired by their game strategy, which helped me a lot in my career development,” Loi said.

During its training days in China, the Chinese Table Tennis College of Shanghai Sports University specially organized several Chinese cultural experience classes such as paper-cutting, tai chi and kunqu, which allowed PNG athletes to learn more about China. It also caused Loi to develop a keen interest in Chinese culture.

“When I went to China, my ambition was to learn more new things,” he said, adding that one of the things that fascinated him the most about table tennis was wushu, which which made him more focused.

Interestingly, of the three options of playing table tennis, learning Chinese, and doing the job his parents want him to pursue, Loi was the most enthusiastic about learning Chinese.

“It is important to learn Chinese, there are many Chinese companies in PNG, and the local people love Chinese people. I want to be a bridge between people from both sides. I also hope to get a Chinese scholarship there. future to study and play table tennis in China.” says Loi.

File photo: Geoffrey Loi (center) training at Shanghai Sports University's Chinese Table Tennis College in 2019. Photo: Courtesy of Loi

File photo: Geoffrey Loi (second from right) and his teammates take part in a traditional Chinese paper-cutting class in Shanghai. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Sports University

Over the years, China has fully sponsored dozens of students from PNG to study in China. At the same time, the Chinese government provided economic and technical assistance to PNG without any political conditions, which led to the construction of a large number of roads, airports, hospitals, schools, power grids and other major infrastructure projects, helping PNG grow its economy and improve people’s livelihoods, which is welcomed by the government and people of PNG.

In August, the two governments made joint efforts to overcome the difficulties of the pandemic by organizing charter flights to help PNG students return to China to continue their studies.

At the moment, Loi is actively preparing for the ITTF-Oceania Melanesia Championships. Thanks to the close exchanges and cooperation between China and PNG, more and more young people in PNG, like Loi, are gaining a greater platform to develop themselves in their chosen fields.

Loi hopes the young people of the two countries will learn from each other, deepen mutual understanding and faithfully perpetuate the China-PNG friendship.

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