On Friday 21 April 2017, the life of Rewi Alley was celebrated during a commemorative event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.  Rewi was one of the most influential foreigners in China in the 20th century and has been recognised as one of China’s top foreign friends. In 1987 Rewi was granted honorary citizenship to China for his work in founding a series of technical training schools for youth in Shandan, Gansu province. Rewi contributed significantly to the bilateral relationship in his support and goodwill that he personally generated for New Zealand in China and in 1952, he was the driving force behind the establishment of the New Zealand-China Friendship Society. As recently as 2012, Rewi was named one of the Top Ten Influential Foreigners in China in the 20th century by an Internet poll of over 50 million Chinese. This year is the 120th anniversary of his birth (in Springfield, Canterbury), the 90th anniversary of his first arrival in China (21 April 1927) and the 30th anniversary of his death in Beijing (27 December 1987), not long after his 90th birthday.

Rewi Alley commemorative event in Beijing.

Rewi Alley commemorative event in Beijing.

Friday’s event was to commemorate those dates and was attended by China’s Vice President Li Yuanchao, as well as members of Rewi’s family and New Zealand Ambassador John McKinnon, who spoke at the event, paying special tribute to Rewi’s capacity for organisation and the humanitarian impulse that drove him to help improve the lives and living conditions of thousands of people in China.

A letter from President Xi Jinping dedicated to Rewi Alley was delivered to the ceremony. “Alley stood with the Chinese people through thick and thin. He lived and worked in China for 60 years, building a bridge of friendship between the people of China and the people of New Zealand,” Xi said. You can find the full letter here (external link)

 


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