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‘Voice of Friendship’ commemorates Youxie’s 60th Birthday

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Ceremony of conferring 'Honorary Citizenship' on Rewi Alley by the Beijing Municipal Government, Dec 2, 1982. L-R: Wang Bingnan, Rewi Alley, Liao Chengzhi and Jiao Ruoyu
Ceremony of conferring ‘Honorary Citizenship’ on Rewi Alley by the Beijing Municipal Government, Dec 2, 1982.
L-R: Wang Bingnan, Rewi Alley, Liao Chengzhi and Jiao Ruoyu

Voice of Friendship,  the magazine of CPAFFC (Chinese Peoples’ Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries) aka Youxie, recently celebrated its 60th birthday with several fascinating  articles about Rewi Alley and Wang Bingnan (veteran revolutionary and 4th President of the  organisation) and the story of Youxie.

Lu Wanru, in “Wang Bingnan and Rewi Alley in his Later Years“, speaks with great affection of Wang who risked much during the closing stages of the Cultural Revolution, being convinced of China’s need to continue friendly relations with other countries.  He held the post of president of the CPAFFC for ten years from 1975 and was beloved for his outstanding contributions in resuming China’s diplomacy which had been suspended for the previous 10 years because of the chaos caused by the Cultural Revolution.

In 1976, Wang Bingnan witnessed the passing away of Premier Zhou Enlai, Marshal Zhu De and Chairman Mao as well as the Tangshan earthquake and the overcoming of the “Gang of Four”.  Soon after, under Wang’s inspired leadership, friendly exchanges organised by Youxie were being resumed and contacts established.

Lu Wanru also describes the celebration of Rewi Alley’s 80th birthday with Deng Xiaoping and Wang Bingnan.  

However, Wang Bingnan and Rewi were old friends from the early days when Rewi worked to establish the Association of Chinese Industrial Co-operatives (the Gung Ho movement).  Wang Bingnan was disturbed to learn that Rewi had been pronounced a ‘mole’ by the Gang of Four and some of his adopted sons and students had become targets of the revolution.  He then decided to organise a birthday celebration for Rewi at which Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping spoke on behalf of the Chinese Government as did other leaders of departments and Rewi’s friends and adopted sons who had been incriminated in the Cultural Revolution, as well as Gung Ho colleagues who took part in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

Deng Xiaoping voiced the feeling of all those present: “Tens of thousands of foreign friends have devoted themselves to the cause of the Chinese Revolution.  Even so, rare are those like Comrade Alley, who for 50 years has done tremendous work for the Chinese people.”  This dispelled any doubt that some may have had who were unaware of the truth and eased the burden of his friends and relatives.

The article then highlights many of the events in Rewi’s life in assisting the young and underprivileged  in the pursuit of a better life, and also his adventures during those turbulent years. 

Author, Lu Wanru, is an Honorary member of the Society.

The second article, “Sixty Years of Friendship“, written by Liu Gengyin (former vice-president of CCAFFC) details Rewi’s extraordinary life in China.   He covers Rewi’s arrival in China from New Zealand when he worked in the Shanghai Municipal Council until 1943 and how the Shanghai underground organisation of the Communist Party installed a secret radio transceiver in his home in order to keep in contact with the Red Army.

It was during this time that Rewi met Soong Ching Ling (Song Qingling), George Hatem, Agnes Smedley and many other progressives.  Liu Gengyin covers the founding of the Gung Ho movement and Rewi’s establishment of the Bailie School in Shandan.    He also explains the foundation of the CPAFFC  on May 3rd 1954. 

Both articles contain fascinating details of Rewi’s life.  There is a certain amount of overlap, but each article has its own personal take on Rewi Alley’s life. 

Finally, it is touching to note that both articles have a header “They will live in our hearts forever“.

  • To read the complete articles, click HERE for a downloadable pdf of “Voice of Friendship” No. 176.  
    You will have to scroll down to the articles – to page 48 for “Wang Bingnan and Rewi Alley in His Later Years” and page 54 for “Sixty Years of Friendship“.
  • For our report on NZCFS at Youxie’s 60th Anniversary Celebrations in Beijing: Click HERE

Teri France, August 2014