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The Day of Reunion • The Way of Homecoming • The Dream of Developing

                                                               (Malaysian Newspapers Published the Article by Ambassador Bai Tian)

    With the end of Lantern Festival, the grand celebration of the Chinese New Year is drawing to a close. As the new Chinese ambassador, I was lucky to spend my first Chinese New Year in Malaysia with friends here from all sectors and was deeply impressed by the experience.

    In Malaysia, there is a three-day public holiday for the Chinese New Year. While the celebration seems much longer. Maybe because I'm a newcomer, friends from all walks of life are eager to invite me to different celebration activities, which lasted for nearly two months. If there's a voting for the longest Chinese New Year celebration in the world, I would definitely vote for Malaysia.

    The atmosphere of the Chinese New Year in Malaysia is quite strong. Lanterns and colored lights can be seen everywhere, and people are bursting with happiness and joy. The shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur look magnificent with the Chinese New Year decoration, which is full of Chinese cultural elements. There are also some Middle school students writing the Chinese New Year couplets in the malls. I excitingly found an old Malay man with a little girl so attracted by the Chinese New Year couplets that at last bought a pair of them.

    The Chinese New Year is a nationwide celebration day of Malaysia. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi and many other Ministers, as well as the ordinary villagers from Bagan Datuk, Sembrong and Jenjarom, all celebrated the Chinese New Year with the tradition Lou Sang, giving best wishes to each other and to the thriving and prosperous future of Malaysia.

    Not only Malaysian Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year in Malaysia, but also other ethnics. In spite of race and region, wearing in red and scattering Ang Pows have become a common tradition. People bowing to each other and blessing with Gong Xi Fa Cai have turned into a shared practice. The Dragon and Lion Dancing inherited from China, together with Twenty-Four Festive Drums originated from Malaysia make the Chinese New Year even more joyful. In every celebration activity, I saw friends of different ethnics gathering and celebrating the Chinese New Year together. I was not only moved by the Malaysian Chinese who inherit and practice  the Chinese cultural tradition so well, but also was deeply impressed by the spirit of embracing diversity and pluralistic harmony of Malaysian Society. It is the most important  cornerstone of stability, source of charm and driving force for the development of Malaysia.

    Family and homeland means a lot to the Chinese people, and the Chinese New Year is the most important reunion day for people who travelled far away from home. All of them will be on the way to home in the same short period and nothing could stop them no matter how long they need to trek, how cold it is or how hard to get a ticket. In view of China's huge population, traffic before and after the Chinese New Year is called 'Chun Yun', which is considered as the largest scale of annual migration of human being by the western countries. Thanks to its gradual improvement of China's public transportation and supporting facilities in the past 40 years' reform and opening up, the way back to home has become more and more convenient. In 2009, the NHK TV station from Japan made a documentary program in Guangzhou during the Chinese New Year, recording passengers who had to sleep on the ground of train station square in order to save money, crowds of people pushed each other and rushed at the ticket checking point, and people who slept in the crowded carriageways of trains. In the 'Chun Yun' documentary filmed by the BBC in 2016, the means of transportation for people returning to their homes began to diversify, which from cars, trains, planes to motorcycles. The ticket checking point of the railway station no longer had a scene similar to the one in 2009. In 2010, the movie 'Lost On Journey' was a big hit which showed all kinds of awkward and adventurous journeys during the Chinese New Year. However, today's Chinese people are proud of the fact that the coins could erect in Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail carriages for 9 minutes due to its smooth operation of its train. And the Longan train station in Fujian Province was retrofitted and completed in 9 hours. During 'Chun Yun' this year, there are 2.98 million passengers travelling on the way, among which 390 million took the train. The expansion of the high-speed rail network has once again shortened the way of returning home. New technologies such as face recognition, WeChat and Alipay has made people's travel more convenient.

    As China's first high-speed railway with completely independent intellectual property rights, the Beijing-Tianjin intercity railway was put into use in August 2008. By the end of 2017, the running mileage of China's high-speed railway has reached 25,000 kilometers, accounting for 66.3% of the world's total number of high-speed railway. The cumulative passenger traffic has reached 7 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the world's total population. Seated on the Fuxing train at a highest speed of 350 kilometers per hour, passengers could have reunion dinner at home within a few hours. When I first came to work in Beijing in 1993, I relied mainly on ordinary trains to return to my hometown of Xi'an, Shaanxi. At that time, it took about 14 hours by ordinary train. Now the high-speed rail linking Beijing to Xi'an has saved the time to only 5 hours.

    China's vast and complex geological conditions have accumulated a great deal of experience and data for the development of high-speed rail technology. From Harbin to Dalian, China builds the world's first high-speed railway in frigid zone, through which the rail passes the three provinces in northeastern China with a sharp temperature difference in the whole year. In addition which is the world's first high-speed railway built in tropical area, the high-speed railway in Hainan Island of China, succeeds in resisting strong typhoons for many times. Moreover, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has overcome three difficulties, namely thousands of miles of frozen soil, frigid and lack of oxygen as well as ecological fragility, and created a miracle in the history of railway construction. It is true that from a worldwide perspective, China is a latecomer in railway construction. However, due to the diligence and wisdom of its people, China has evolved the high-speed rail technology from "technology introduction" to "digestion and absorption", and now to export its "scientific and technological skills". China now possesses the longest railway mileage, the longest running length and the largest number of travelers all over the world.

    It's been only three months since I took office, but I have been impressed by the significant efforts made by the Malaysian government to improve public transport operations and to provide people with much more convenient and rapid travelling facilities. This concept coincides with that of the Chinese government. During the Chinese New Year holiday, I had a chance to experience the comfortable carriage and convenient services provided by MRT. Meanwhile, on the way to Ipoh on the second day of the Chinese New Year, I joined the long queue of cars and felt the hardships of people returning home. I believe that with the gradual implementation of MRT, ETS, RTS, East Coast Rail Line and Malaysia-Singapore High Speed Rail, the way back to home for the Malaysian people will be more and more convenient. In 2015, China filmed a documentary titled HSR, Changing Life. One of the stories is about a Malaysian student called Shafiq who studies in China. His aspiration is to become a diplomat. The high-speed rail carries his dream and takes him around China to experience the history, culture and customs in different regions. I have faith that one day the high-speed trains would assist more Malaysian people to enjoy the quickness and convenience of life and pursue their dreams. Moreover, I also firmly believe that by means of collaboration with China and the wisdom of Malaysian people, Malaysia will soon become a master of the construction technologies and operation experience of high-speed rail.

    During this Chinese New Year, I've witnessed the shared experience of homecoming and the shared aspiration of union of Chinese and Malaysian people. This reflects our shared expectation for our countries to achieve better and faster development in the future. Both the Chinese and Malaysian governments have formulated ambitious plans for their respective long-term development and kept striding forward in the historical journey of national rejuvenation and progress. As a comprehensive strategic partner of Malaysia, China is willing to work hand in hand with Malaysia to promote close cooperation, and complement each others' advantages, with an aim to seek common prosperity, and realize our respective dreams of development.

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