Editor's Note: The third SCNU English writing contest, themed "Telling China's Story", ended with 422 entries from 33 different schools. We congratulate all prize winners on their outstanding performance. Awarded winners have been announced (see results), and all winning entries will be published in this column.


By Hong Fei

I am a Mexican journalist working in China for more than 40 years. For 40 years, I have been to many cities and villages here and seen how Chinese people live and work. However, nowadays, there are some media ignoring the facts here and producing lots of fake news. That's not the real China. So here today, I'd like to share my interview notes in the past 40 years with you. Then hope you can see China objectively and justly.

The first note is recorded in my early interviews in 1982, when I went to a town in Anhui.

"On Aug. 11th, 1982, I went to a small town in Anhui to interview the local peasantry there to understand how the new policy affected their life after it was carried out. This country had suffered from an economic catastrophe and they were trying to recover. Once I arrived there, I found that I saw nobody on road. Therefore, I walked to a field ridge, finding a young man working in his field. Noticing that I was observing him, he stopped his work to walk towards me. I explained my purpose and then required to work with him the whole day. It was about 2 p.m., the hottest time of the day and he was mowing continually despite his shirt being soaked by his sweat. Then I joined his work and talked with him. 

Through the talks when working with him, I learned that he was working in the field and also in the factory in town during the slack farming time. He worked for more than 12 hours a day and only rested during the Spring Festival. 'I just want to live a peaceful life without the worry of the food and clothes. Now it seems possible and just last New Year, my family can get together to have a feast!' said the young man. 


Farmers work during the busy farming season. (author: Thành Peter)

I can't imagine how the man can work like this without any scruple towards his dream. Besides, in the other villages, I also found many people living like him. Just the moment when I saw he was working in the field almost crazily, I was shocked as a newcomer to China. I could strongly sense how strong the will of the people here to pursue prosperous life is, how energetic the newborn country is, and even I could hear the beat of this country's heart just like a nestling's."

The second note is written 26 years later on the scene of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. At that time, I was just standing in front of spectators stand in Bird's Nest Stadium.

"It was the night on Aug. 8, 2008. Here stood many journalists similar to me from different countries waiting for the beginning of the Opening Ceremony. Long before entering the venue, I had seen plenty of Chinese people gathering together around the Bird's Nest Stadium, in front of Tiananmen Square and on both sides of the business streets. They carried their national flag, lifted the camera, wore the T-shirt signed 'I love China' and cheered for a such spectacular event. When it came to the opening, when all the lights were turned off, when the whole venue was dark, all the audience from whatever countries burst out in cheers. The hurrah, the clapping and the whistling filled the air. Everyone was immersed in the happiness for this opening ceremony. 


The firework display in the opening ceremony (author: Pixabay License)

Properly speaking, I was shocked again the moment when everyone cheered. I couldn't believe this happened in such a country which used to be a place with many people who didn't have enough food to eat, a place that just suffered an earthquake and a place that was ignored by the whole world. Whereas, people who lived here, people who came here, they all threw out all the past and celebrated for this China's feast!

The world had changed, and the country had changed. I never felt so glad to have the chance to see how everything happened before. Besides, I would see how everything here was going."

The last note was just taken last year when I was in the "Hero City" Wuhan during 76 days of lockdown.

"On the account of COVID-19 and the lockdown policy, I had to stay in Wuhan until the lockdown was lifted. The date the policy was carried out was Jan. 23, 2020 and later on April 8, 2020, I could leave Wuhan freely. The whole lockdown had 'locked' me for the entire 76 days. It must be impossible in western countries for the reason that governments don't have the power to carry such a policy and people won't obey it either. Therefore, once this news that Wuhan was locked down compulsorily was spread over western countries, all media and most people criticized it immediately. Then, the governments in western countries promised they wouldn't work like that. Nevertheless, the policy was ultimately confirmed effective. 

During the 76 days in Wuhan, I met many medical care personnel who came from many other provinces to assist the medical system in Wuhan to cure the cases. What made me confused was that all of them could come to this dangerous city that had just reported the most cases in China and cure the cases here with honor rather than fear. Later, I interviewed a doctor when I helped the take-away deliveryman to deliver lunch to the hospital. As I asked him how did he feel about coming to Wuhan, the 'hero' from Guangdong told me: 'I am very proud of my behavior. I can participate in this campaign against the virus. It's my pleasure to see the patient recover and leaves our hospital.' Despite he was wearing the heavy protective clothing, I could still sense his determination from his eyes and tone that everything would become better in the near future, which was the confidence of a frontline doctor.

Everything in Wuhan seemed to develop as the doctor wanted. By April 8, there was not any new case reported in Wuhan, showing everything was going to become as usual. Hence, on April 8, the government announced Wuhan could reopen and return to work and production. The city was locked down for entire 76 days but the people here successfully fought against the virus.

When I was waiting for my plane at the airport to go back to my news agency, I remembered what happened 4 days earlier. It was on a traditional festival 'Qingming Festival' which is dedicated to Chinese people's ancestors and their martyrs with all the dead in this pandemic. On that day morning, there were suddenly alarm songs spreading over. Then everyone stopped working, lowered their heads, and stood in silent tribute, lasting for 3 minutes. The people were memorizing the dead in epidemic period, while some even cried. I attended their action, deeply touched by such unity activity. That must be the grandest scenery in human-beings history: all the people stood on the street, the car stopped by the road and they were in silent tribute for those heroes and victims."

These three interview notes were recorded respectively in three quite different periods. They spanned almost 40 years since the first to the last. They are real China or just what China originally is like. It's undoubtfully that China is changing, from a country where people were still worried about their lives to a country where people were celebrating their Olympics Games then to a country where people united to overcome the same enemy and honor their heroes. 

If you ask me what China is like, and what is happening in China, I will tell you China is developing in every aspect. Chinese people want to have a happy and rich life, and also gain respect from other countries. If you ask me what is not changing in China, I will show you that the country is changing but their spirit isn't changing. The unchanged thing is the Chinese spirit. No matter when it is, 40 years ago or at present, the strong will to live happily and richly, the spirit of hard work and the unity are stable. All of them comprise the Chinese spirit, telling us an inheritance and development story in China.

I sincerely hope you can objectively observe China, throw out the tinted spectacles and enjoy the beauty in China. Afterwards, what I enjoyed in China will be what you can enjoy here.

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