Rewi Alley -- Unforgettable Hero of Chinese and New Zealand People
    2009-11-25 13:00:03      Web Editor: Zhang Xu

Rewi Alley [File Photo:]

More than 80 years ago, a young New Zealander named Rewi Alley came to China out of curiosity. His destiny was closely connected with the Chinese people's emancipation and New China's construction.

During his 60 years in China, Rewi assisted the Chinese with self-help production projects, interpreted China to the world and promoted the friendship between China and New Zealand.

Rewi Alley was born on December 2, 1897, in the small town of Springfield in inland Canterbury, New Zealand. The residents of his hometown built a memorial hall to mark his 100th birthday more than 10 years ago. In the memorial hall, you can hear a special song written for Alley, see a brief introduction about him, and learn about his contributions to the Chinese people's emancipation and friendship between China and New Zealand. A memorial plaque near Alley's sculpture reads in Chinese: "Rewi Alley, Chinese people's sincere friend. Chinese and New Zealand people will never forget him."

In 1927, Alley came to China alone. In the beginning, he planned to pay a short visit to the mysterious oriental nation. But the Chinese people's poor lives under the pressure of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism made him decide to stay in China and help the Chinese people.

David Somerset, Alley's nephew, told China Radio International (CRI) that Alley was a man who would do great things in China.

"However, he came from a family that had very strict ideas about the way you should lead your life," Somerset said. "For them, life was very serious business. You didn't tackle it lightly. You endeavored and tried to form the world. You had to go out and help people instead of doing nothing."

Alley's mother, Clara, was a famous feminist in New Zealand. Because of her, Alley developed a perseverant character which helped him achieve his success in China.

In 1937, China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out, and China's industry was nearly paralyzed. Alley believed that unemployed workers and refugees should join forces to conduct self-help production. With a proposal from Alley and the American journalist Edgar Snow and his wife, the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Association was established in 1938 to help Chinese industry recover and develop. Alley, who was the association's secretary-general, began to work hard for the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Movement.

In 1942, Alley set up the Bailie School in northwest China's Shaanxi Province to train technical workers. To avoid bombings by the Japanese, the school was later moved to isolated Shandan County in northwest China's Gansu Province where it became the renowned Shandan Bailie School and trained many technical workers for New China.

Liu Guozhong, Vice President of the Shandan Bailie School, said, "Everyone in Shandan County knows Rewi Alley and adores him. No matter if you are in the countryside or cities in China, when talking about Alley, everyone knows that he was involved in the Chinese Industrial Cooperative Movement and the Shandan Bailie School."

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