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Warmth and Conviction in President XI Jinping’s Reply to Pakistani Students Studying at USTB


“The Sino-Pakistani friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the Arabian Sea. The two countries will always be good friends.” Upon receiving a reply from President XI Jinping, Sumra Siddique, a second-year undergraduate student from Pakistan who is studying environmental engineering at USTB, wrote about her excitement.


On May 17, in his reply to a letter from Pakistani students studying at USTB, Chinese President XI Jinping extended a welcome to youth from countries around the world to study in China. In his letter, President XI encouraged the students to communicate more with their Chinese peers and join hands with youth from other nations to promote connectivity between the people and build a community for the shared future of humanity.


USTB was founded in 1952 and began to enroll international students in 1954. There are currently 52 Pakistani students including 49 PhD and Master’s students, making them the largest overseas student group studying in USTB. They recently wrote about their experiences and feelings of studying in China in a letter to President XI and expressed their gratitude to USTB for providing care and help for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also expressed their aspirations to join in building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) after graduation and contribute to enhancing the Sino-Pakistani friendship.


“Seeing a letter is like seeing the author. President XI's reply brings me warmth and strength,” said Ali Khan, a third-year PhD student studying information and communication engineering. “President XI is a great leader, because he’s eradicating poverty and delivering prosperity in China, and his call for a community for the shared future of humanity also brings sunshine to the world.”


In Ali’s international student apartment, everything is free of dust, and the Pakistani flag and ornaments with Chinese features are quite impressive. On the previous day, Ali was touched by the birthday card and cake prepared by his teacher. Today, President XI's reply is another surprise for the Pakistani student who has become deeply connected with China.


Ali's father came to China to learn the Chinese language in 1978, and earned his bachelor’s degree from USTB in 1979. After graduation, he worked for a long time in the financial sector of China. Ali was born in China, but at the age o f 1, he went to Pakistan with his family.


“I grew up always listening to the stories about China from my dad. His fascinating experiences made me dream of returning to China for higher education.” Ali said.


President XI’s reply has encouraged Ali to work harder in learning Chinese language and understanding Chinese culture and experience of progress, so that he can better serve the Pakistani people after his return.


“The BRI has brought about real benefits in employment and daily lives for participating countries,” Ali said, “Whenever I say I am an ‘Ironclad Brother’ to Chinese people, they make me feel very welcome. So I want to pass on the Sino-Pakistani friendship to future generations, just like my father.”


Shah Zada is a second-year PhD student in chemistry. Thanks to the BRI, newly-built roads and schools have significantly improved living conditions in his hometown.


“My hometown has witnessed great changes in the mountains of Pakistan. Chinese people would be welcomed with open arms there. And I also receive similar kindness in China.”


These students from Pakistan believe that China has always been ready to share its experience, whether on economic development or in fighting against COVID-19, and willing to provide support to countries in need. What China cares about is the common good of mankind.


Hameeza Ahmed found herself to be too excited to fall asleep after she received a reply from President XI. She followed her husband who studied at Tsinghua University to China two years ago, and is now studying for her Master’s degree in international trade at USTB.


“During the pandemic, teachers from the International Student Center provided help and family-like warmth,” Hameeza said.


Muhammad Arif, a Pakistani student who wrote the letter to President XI, came to China in 2010 and studied for his Master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science and technology at USTB. Now he can speak fluent Chinese.


Arif has witnessed the close bond between China and Pakistan when the two countries united as one to work through the rough times during the pandemic.


Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Pakistan have supported each other and cooperated closely to fight the pandemic. At the critical moment in China’s fight against the virus, Pakistan sent almost its entire reserve of masks. In return, China sent a team of medical experts to Pakistan as well as relief assistance, while mobilizing people from all walks of life to make donations or offer medical supplies.


Even in his home in Islamabad, Arif also felt the care from China. He received timely pandemic coping tips from USTB and live online courses to ensure uninterrupted education. Additionally, masks were mailed through special delivery to Arif and his 44 peers in Pakistan.


“I want to tell more people what I have seen, what I have heard, and what I have felt in China, and let them know more about China.” Arif said.


In the course of enacting pandemic prevention and treatment measures, China underscored a people-centered approach. China’s central government mobilized the best doctors, the most advanced equipment, and the most urgently needed resources in the whole country. The international students spoke of being impressed by the strength of solidarity and science in China.


Shah said that China handled the crisis courageously and shared strategic achievements with the world, making China a major country that showed responsibility for the safety and health of its people, and global public health.


During his stay in China, the teachers of USTB gave Shah much guidance. “Even during the pandemic, my study has been uninterrupted.” The teachers communicated one-to-one with students to ensure the goal of “suspending classes without suspending learning”. Shah has successfully published research results in top international chemical journals.


“Come on, China! Come on, Pakistan!” Through the video connection, Arif said, “I hope the pandemic comes to an end earlier so that I can return to China to continue my studies. As President XI Jinping said, I’ll work together with youths from all over the world to contribute to the connectivity of the people and building a community for shared future of mankind.”