Friendship beyond the Pass
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Pingxiang City, a two-hour-drive ride from Nanning, is very close to Vietnam.
In a photo processing shop here, we saw a huge photo of the winners of a Chinese-Vietnamese cross-border beauty contest. We also saw a poster for a cross-border rock climbing competition. The shop assistant said he liked these joint events. In his view, the two countries' peoples were like relatives, and many of his Vietnamese clients shared such feelings.
Driving eighteen kilometers southwest out of Pingxiang, we came to the Friendship Pass. High over the gateway was the name of the pass in the calligraphy of General Chen Yi one of the veterans who founded New China in 1949. In the morning sun. the huge inscription shone brightly on the 22-meter-high pass tower.
Crossing the end of National Highway 322. we stepped into Vietnamese territory.
Waiting by the road were many taxis for passenger hire. We took one and headed for Dong Dang along their Highway 1. A few minutes later, we arrived at this booming town with an international railway station. Both passenger and freight trains from Pingxiang stop here before going further into Vietnam. When we talked to a pilgrim at a temple, he described to us the spring football match between Pingxiang and Dong Dang, "It happened to fall on the same day as the temple fair here. and the crowds were enormous.People even came from Hanoi.'
On the way to Lang Son. ten kilometers away, we saw fold after fold of mountains, and fully laden trucks overtaking us on the highway. The driver told us that the huge potential in Sino-Vietnamese trade had encouraged his government to spend more on widening the road. The happy fellow even sang Vietnam and China along with u
Lang Son impressed us with its well-planned urban layout: there were few high-rises, and the yellow-walled and red-roofed houses that lined the wide streets all looked beautiful. Our tour guide was a lady specially assigned to help Chinese tourists. She mentioned the principles set by the leaders of the two countries to "maintain tong-term stability, look into the future, build harmonious friendship and develop overall cooperation." "As long as our two countries maintain good relations, our business will get ever more prosperous." she said.
The continuous development of Sino-Vietnamese relations has greatly benefited businesspeople on both sides. At a market in Lang Son we saw a huge area covered with booths and stalls selling Chinese-made motorcycles, home appliances, liquors and even dried turnips.
Back from Vietnam. we talked with the frontier checkpoint workers. They told us about their cooperation with the Vietnamese holding joint meetings,attending each other's festival activities, vocational exchanges, and joint crackdowns on trans-border crime to safeguard social order in the frontier areas.
There are many moving stories about Sino-Vietnamese friendship.
In Lang Son, Guangxi volunteers and young Vietnamese medical workers visited three Vietnamese counties and provided medical services to the people there.
In front of the Friendship Pass, Chinese and Vietnamese young people signed their names and launched the campaign against drugs.
In the Pingxiang Ethnic Minority Hope School. Chinese and Vietnamese youth planted 48 kapok trees, a symbol of the friendship fostered by their predecessors. They hoped they could undertake the historic duty of developing Sino-Vietnamese friendship and that the trees would grow forever green.
Since 1993, Pingxiang has hosted eight Sino-Vietnamese goods fairs and four border tourism festivals.
During these events, many activities are staged, including gala shows, calligraphy and painting exhibitions, rock climb tournaments and border tours.
At festivals, as a major performance site, the ancient Friendship Pass is decorated with red lanterns and colored ribbons. The song Vietnam and China is always sung in both languages at such events as it expresses the aspirations of both peoples for long-lasting friendship between them.
On both Chinese and Vietnamese sides of the pass,we experienced for ourselves the close friendship between the two countries.