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Speech at the Documentary Launch Ceremony commemorating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Kathleen Hall (He Mingqing)
2021/05/15
 
 Hon. President of NZ-China Friendship Society Dave Bromwich

Her Worship Mayor of Hamilton Paula Southgate,

 

Good afternoon. Welcome to the documentary launch ceremony commemorating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Kathleen Hall. Hamilton is where Kathleen spent her later years. It is of special importance for us to be here with her relatives and friends to commemorate and cherish the memory of a New Zealander, who took the liberation of the Chinese nation and the improvement of Chinese people's living standards as her lifelong mission.

 

Kathleen Hall came to China in the early 1920s and devoted her best years to the Chinese people who were living in war and poverty. She set up clinics in China's poor and remote villages, attending the sick and wounded as well as training local nursing staff. While the all-out war on China was started by Japanese invaders, Kathleen witnessed the brutality of the Japanese, and immediately devoted herself to helping the Chinese people in resistance against the aggressors. She worked together with Canadian doctor Norman Bethune, to treat soldiers of the Eighth Route Army led by the Communist Party of China, who were wounded in the forefront. It was a transition for her from hearing about to seeing and to understanding the Communist Party. In contacts with armed forces of the CPC, Kathleen discovered the hope of saving China in these young communists. I found the following quote on Wikipedia--- She had once claimed that Communists were trouble-makers. But over time, her views changed. She met communist commander Nie Rongzhen and afterwards she claimed, "Communists have a mind that is open like the sea, only the communists will be able to change the face of China, because they have strict discipline, and they give a positive and friendly hope to the people of raising their standard of living". With open mind and strict discipline, Kathleen firmly believed that only such a party could save China and its people. At the same time, she realized that the goal of the CPC was highly consistent with her mission. This inspired and supported this gentle but decisive woman of great faith. She risked her life many times by crossing the Japanese blockades to deliver medicine and medical supplies, covering and aiding injured soldiers. Even after being arrested and deported by the Japanese aggressors, she still took pains to try to return to the front in China. Though she failed to make it, her contribution to the Chinese people's final victory over the anti-Japanese war is indelible. Today, when we look back at that period of history, we see that a New Zealander fought alongside the Chinese people against the Japanese invaders in a foreign country far away from her home and tried everything she could to raise money for medical supplies, including borrowing money from her family. These touching deeds and noble characters of Kathleen Hall are so impressive that we can actually feel her sincere love for the Chinese people. We will never forget Kathleen Hall and other friends who have helped us, especially those who have helped us in the most difficult and suffering time of our nation.

 

Kathleen eventually returned to New Zealand, where she spent the rest of her life, but she still regarded herself as a part of the Chinese people who struggled for national independence, wishing to see the fulfillment of the mission to let the Chinese people live a better life. Before leaving this world, she wished that part of her ashes be brought to China and buried in the place where she fought shoulder to shoulder with the Chinese people so that she could witness the prosperity of the Chinese nation.

 

When Kathleen first went to China, the Communist Party of China was just founded. By the same time, China was poor and weak, and the people lived in the abyss of untold misery and humiliation. Kathleen did not get it wrong. The CPC has a strong will and strict discipline underpinning its cause of seeking happiness for the people. It's the political party that can lead the Chinese nation to defeat the invading enemy, gain independence and liberation, and build a better life. This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the CPC. I believe that the soul of Kathleen will be relieved in the fact that the Communist Party has united the Chinese people and led them in making great historic achievements:

One, founding a new China after hard struggles, and thus ending the history of semi-colonial and semi-feudal society thoroughly.

Two, establishing basic socialist system, eliminating all exploitation system, and completing the most extensive and profound social reform of China, thus laying a solid foundation for further prosperity of the Chinese nation and for better life of Chinese people.

Through above accomplishments, China has made a great leap from standing up to growing rich and becoming strong. A prosperous China that Kathleen longed for has come true.

 

On the occasion of celebrating the 100th birthday of the Communist Party of China, we pay regards to Kathleen Hall and Rewi Alley for their spirit of internationalism in making sacrifices for upholding justice through thick and thin. We also thank them for their selfless dedication to pursuing life-long ideals of upholding fairness and justice, and supporting China's just cause.

 

The Chinese people love and cherish peace, and oppose hegemony and power politics. The CPC will continuously unite and lead the Chinese people in making joint efforts with people of other countries to fight for a better world. Thanks to the joint efforts of both sides, China and New Zealand have enjoyed sound momentum of development, and established a comprehensive strategic partnership. China has become New Zealand's largest goods market, largest source of international students, second largest source of tourists. Despite the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way trade between the two countries reached a superb high last year, maintaining the same level as of 2019. Last November, China, New Zealand and other countries signed the RCEP, marking the launch of the free trade area with the largest population, the largest economy and the greatest development potential in the world. In January this year, the two governments signed the Protocol to Upgrade the FTA, which will further enhance the quality and efficiency of China-New Zealand FTA relations on the basis of the RCEP. It also demonstrates the firm determination of China and New Zealand to support multilateralism and free trade with concrete actions.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to take this opportunity to express my special thanks to the friends of the New Zealand-China Friendship Society, who are still carrying forward the spirit of Kathleen Hall and Rewi Alley. Since its establishment, the He Mingqing Memorial Scholarship has provided financial assistance to 8 girls in poor areas of China to complete nursing courses and return to their hometowns to serve the local people. Due to the hard work of people like you, the friendship between Chinese and New Zealand peoples has been growing stronger.

 

Finally, Let us carry on the tradition of our predecessors, stay steady fast in our mission, hold high the banner of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and join hands to elevate China-New Zealand friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation to a fresh high level.

 

Thank you!

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