A school linking a Pacific island country and China

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 13, 2023
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In June this year, the China Table Tennis College of Shanghai University of Sport welcomed a group of players from the Papua New Guinea (PNG) national table tennis team, who came to the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai for a training camp.

As their representative, 23-year-old Geoffrey Loi spoke at the opening ceremony of the training camp, during which he mentioned his close relationship with China, including that he had once received a reply letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Four years ago, the PNG national table tennis team, which had received training from the China Table Tennis College, won two silver medals in the 2019 Pacific Games, their best result in history. Loi wrote to Xi to extend his gratitude for the Chinese president's support for PNG table tennis development and express his passion for Chinese culture.

Xi later wrote back, congratulating Loi and his teammates for their achievements in the Pacific Games and wishing them new successes. He also recalled watching Loi playing table tennis in person several months ago.

It was in November 2018 when Xi paid a state visit to PNG. Xi watched Loi and his teammates training with their Chinese coach at the China Table Tennis College Training Center located at the Butuka Academy, a PNG and China friendship school.

Xi thumbed up to Loi and waved his arm as he swung a racket, using such body language to praise the boy's table tennis techniques.

The Butuka Academy is a public service project funded by China with assistance from Port Moresby's Chinese friendship city, Shenzhen. And the Chinese president has been paying continuous attention to the development of the school.

In a reply letter to the school in 2020, he said China will continue providing necessary support and assistance for the school's development.

In 2022, when meeting with PNG Prime Minister James Marape during the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting, Xi also said China would dispatch teachers to the Butuka Academy and provide teaching equipment in light of PNG's needs.

Originally a primary school with old buildings, it was enlarged into a modernized school consisting of a kindergarten, primary school, and middle school after a year of construction. As of 2022, the Butuka Academy had over 3,000 students.

"Talent is the primary resource. China funded the academy's construction to help PNG nurture talent," Xi said at the opening ceremony of the school in 2018, citing the old Chinese idiom, "Teaching one to fish is better than giving him a fish."

"I believe that a wealth of talent will strongly support PNG in sustainable development and catching up with other countries," he said.

When Xi left the school, 30 students chorused a nationally well-known Chinese song, "Let Us Swing Twin Oars."

The students might hardly imagine the scenery the song depicted about children boating on a lake in central Beijing decades ago. However, it seemed to bring them closer to the visiting Chinese president, who traveled across the ocean there to promote "prosperity, openness, and friendship" between China and PNG.

"I have also sung this song as a child," Xi told the children. "Thank you!"

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