Introduction to the Cyber Selection Event "Chinese Connection - Top Ten Int'l Friends of China"
    2009-11-23 21:07:38      Web Editor: Liu Donghui

Upon the special occasion of the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China, China Radio International (CRI), the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs jointly launched the cyber selection process for "Chinese Connection - Top Ten International Friends of China," which aims to help people all over the world learn more about those who have stood side-by-side with China and have dedicated their lives to the friendship between China and other parts of the world over the past century.

The cyber selection event, organized by three authoritative organizations targeting "men and women of the century," and with direct participation of the public, is the first such activity ever held by the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949.

Initiated on August 31, the poll received an enthusiastic response from China's netizens. As of October 10, the total number of votes cast had exceeded 50 million. The top ten among a total of 50 candidates were finally selected as the Top Ten International Friends of China.

Norman Bethune, a Canadian physician and household name among Chinese, tops the list with more than 4.6 million votes; followed by John Rabe, a German who helped shelter some 250 thousand Chinese civilians from slaughter by the Japanese army between1937-1938.  Third on the list is Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch Toriello, now the IOC honorary president, who always treats Chinese people as friends, and who pushed forward Beijing's bid for the Olympics. Edgar Snow, the American journalist whose book "Red Star over China" helped the Chinese Red Army and Chairman Mao Zedong gain international influence in the 1930s, is next on the list. Next is Dr. Joseph Needham, a British scientist who spent nearly half a century finishing "Science and Civilization in China," a milestone book that made ancient Chinese science known to the world. He's followed by Israel Epstein, who was born in Poland and later became a naturalized citizen of China, and who made China known to the world through his numerous books and articles on China's anti-aggression war and China's reform and development during peace time. Rewi Alley, a social activist and educator from New Zealand who contributed greatly to China's national liberation and development, is followed by Dwarkanath S. Kotnis, an Indian doctor who sacrificed his life during China's war of resistance against Japanese aggression. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of the Kingdom of Thailand and an enthusiastic follower of Chinese culture who made great contributions to promoting the cultural exchange and friendly ties between the two countries by introducing Chinese history and culture to the people of Thailand, and Morihiko Hiramatsu, a Japanese who helped numerous Chinese peasants out of poverty by sponsoring the One Product for One Village movement, complete the list. Besides the ten winners, 11 others were selected as nomination award winners.

Prominent Features of the Selection Event "Chinese Connection - Top Ten International Friends of China"

First, it is more authoritative than previous selection events of its kind

Unlike previous selection events of this kind that were exclusively launched by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries or the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, this selection event was tri-sponsored with the participation of China Radio International, a state-level news media, making the selection more authoritative and the range of candidates more extensive.

Second, it targets century figures instead of annual figures

The Friendship Ambassador Award and the Friendship Award, launched respectively by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, are all annual events, so the award winners are all "Men/Women of the Year." "Chinese Connection - Top Ten International Friends of China," however, aims to select the "Men/Women of the Century," spanning 100 years before and after the founding of new China in 1949.

Third, it has direct participation of the public

The Friendship Award, launched by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, is an official government award; the Friendship Ambassador Award, launched by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, is an unofficial award, yet it lacks direct public participation. "Chinese Connection - Top Ten International Friends of China," however, is based on direct votes cast by Chinese netizens, reflecting public will.  

Fourth, enthusiastic public response

An unidentified netizen posted a message on October 1, reading: thank you and we will remember you forever. Be it a time of war or peace, many of those who pursue peace and life have always stood alongside the Chinese people. Today is the birthday of our motherland, let us propose a toast to a more prosperous China that will contribute more to world peace and development; let us salute to all those international friends to whom Chinese people will forever feel grateful and remember. 

Some netizens said they faced a dilemma when it came to voting.

One online post reads like this: "It is really hard for me to cast my vote. I only know Norman Bethune, who I have already known of since I was a kid. But I learned today that so many more international friends died helping us. It's hard for me to make the choice, and my appreciation goes to all these international friends. The Chinese nation is a great nation, and you are all great friends. I want to cast a vote for each of you, and I hope all those who have helped us will be better known to our children and grandchildren, who should remember them forever. We should also make the descendents of those international friends understand that their fathers or grandfathers are truly respected for their selfless dedication. As the next generation to all those international friends, we are obliged to live in a way that honors the dead. World peace lovers, let's unite! Let's follow the path of our great international friends!"

China Radio International


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