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China Daily Global / 2021-04 / 05 / Page005

Sense of mission, responsibility despite virus

By Zhang Yunbi | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-05 00:00

Envoy shores up friendship between China and Malta by deepening people-to-people exchanges, Zhang Yunbi reports.

As part of China's renewed commitment to improving bilateral ties and cooperation with countries around the world, Chinese diplomats such as Yu Dunhai have overcome various challenges, including travel restrictions, to fly overseas and assume their new posts amid the ongoing pandemic.

Yu, China's top new envoy to the Mediterranean island nation of Malta, was among seven new ambassadors that President Xi Jinping appointed in January.

"Right now, the world is caught between a pandemic of the century and momentous changes never seen in the last one hundred years ... Unity and cooperation are needed more than ever between China and Malta," Yu said in a written message on his arrival. "As the new Ambassador, I'm keenly aware that I shoulder both a glorious mission and an enormous responsibility."

He immediately got down to assuring the people of Malta and greater Europe about China's sincerity in befriending them and seeking win-win opportunities.

The pandemic has significantly changed the character of diplomatic events by necessitating online video meetings or the wearing of masks for in-person meetings.

Yu has had a packed schedule since January, visiting government and parliamentary leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs, and envoys from other countries. He presented his credentials to Malta's President George Vella on Jan 28.

During the meeting with President Vella, the latter spoke highly of China-Malta relations and thanked China for the support in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying that his country looks forward to enhancing high-level exchanges and cooperation with China and strengthening coordination in international affairs.

"China-Malta relationship sets a model of peaceful coexistence between countries of different size, population, cultural traditions and political systems," Yu said.

Malta has been China's friend since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972, respecting its commitment to the one-China policy. China has assisted Malta in building its dry dock, a breakwater and the Chinese Garden of Serenity.

The two-way friendship developed further when China was evacuating its stranded citizens from Libya in 2011, with Malta serving as a key stopover for almost 5,000 Chinese evacuees. "As distance tests a horse's stamina, time reveals a person's character. The friendship between China and Malta has withstood the tests of time, and I am certain it will continue to grow stronger and stronger," Yu said. "The peoples of China and Malta have gone through thick and thin together, supported and assisted each other, and formed a brotherly bond."

Yu is the 15th Chinese ambassador to Malta.

Born in 1973, Yu graduated from Renmin University in Beijing and joined the Chinese Foreign Ministry in 1998. He was earlier attached with China's Permanent Mission to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, based in the Netherlands, and with the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Just before his current posting, he was a deputy head in the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Information Department, hosting news briefings attended by senior diplomats such as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

He has also served as head of the media center for the BRICS Xiamen Summit in 2017 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Qingdao Summit in 2018.

In Malta, his expertise has brought him closer to ordinary people, thus letting China's advocating of win-win collaboration and global justice be better heard.

At the end of January, an article he wrote for the Times of Malta, titled "Multilateralism can help us tackle global challenges together", listed President Xi Jinping's five-point proposition for China's pursuit of multilateralism, China's support for the global fight against COVID-19 and its contribution to carbon emission cuts. On the pandemic, he wrote, "People of all countries are battling the virus with enormous resolve and courage. Once we embark on this arduous journey, hope is our companion. Guided by science and reason, multilateralism will become the torch lighting up the way."

A reader named John Consiglio commended the article for its "positive thinking". He was particularly inspired by how all nations can "work together towards world peace".

Yu's work in recent months has highlighted the depth of people-to-people exchanges between China and Malta.

In February, Yu visited the Mediterranean Regional Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, where experts from China's Jiangsu province offer consultation and treat local residents. The Chinese medical workers there keep journals about the COVID-19 epidemic on a weekly basis, and give health tips to Chinese nationals while also translating the information in English.

Yu hailed them for remaining committed to their work and overcoming challenges, winning the approval of residents of Malta and the Mediterranean region, and promoting TCM culture and bilateral ties.

In mid-March, Yu attended via video link the 12th "Imagining China" children's art competition awards ceremony along with Malta's Minister for Education Justyne Caruana.

"Due to the pandemic, we cannot hold a face-to-face awards ceremony, but we are longing to be together more than ever before, and we need to support each other more than ever before," he said.

"I sincerely hope that the pandemic will come to an end soon and everyone of you will be able to visit China to discover and feel the beauty of China with your own eyes and heart."


Chinese Ambassador Yu Dunhai (second on the left), Maltese President George Vella (extreme right) and Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo (second on the right) attend an event celebrating the Chinese New Year in Valletta, Malta, on Feb 12. CHINA DAILY



Chinese Ambassador Yu Dunhai on his way to present his Letters of Credence to Maltese President George Vella on Jan 28. CHINA DAILY

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