Approaching Gander: Choice at the Crossroads

Posted on February 01, 2024 | Sponsored Content | 0 Comments


By H. E. CONG Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada


As a popular Chinese saying goes, “what a joy to have friends coming from afar!” Not long ago, after concluding my visit to Gander of Newfoundland and Labrador, I came across an exhibition at the Gander International Airport that recounted Gander’s reception of international travelers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And the saying above popped into my head.

During my visit to Gander, I got acquainted with many local friends. Through our interactions, I gained insights into Gander’s unique history, thriving aviation, service, and retail industries. Most importantly, I experienced the warmth and friendliness of the local people, and saw the vast opportunities for subnational cooperation between China and Canada.

Known as the Crossroads of the World, Gander provided a crucial airport and supply station for the Allies throughout World War II nearly a century ago. During wartime, the residents of Gander, alongside people from around the world, shouldered the responsibility of maintaining peace.



This spirit of inclusiveness and mutual assistance continues after the war. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the town with less than 10,000 people ferried 38 planes and over 6,000 passengers from over a hundred countries and regions, selflessly providing them with various assistance such as food, accommodation and supplies. This was how deep friendships were forged in times of adversity. This open and inclusive mindset transcended geographical and national boundaries, calming people’s fears and anxieties. In the eyes of the people of Gander, mankind are all interdependent with a shared future.

In today’s world, multiple challenges and crises are intertwined. The global economic recovery remains sluggish, the development gap is widening, the ecological environment is deteriorating, and the Cold War mentality is lingering. Some countries are still inciting division and confrontation, and creating closed and exclusive clubs, which go against the trend of the times and undermine world peace and stability. Humanity has once again stood at a crossroads in history.

But the story of Gander reminds us that the more the world is in turmoil, the more we have to be broad-minded, show broad vision and shoulder great responsibilities, the more we must uphold equality and respect while discard arrogance and prejudice, the more we should chosen cooperation over confrontation, openness over isolation, mutual benefit over zero-sum game.

The saying “what a joy to have friends coming from afar!” expresses the joy of the Chinese people when receiving friends from afar, embodying the concept of peace, concord and harmony passed down by the Chinese nation from generation to generation. China has always adhered to this concept in handling international relations. Since the outbreak of the current round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China has been working actively to promote peace talks and a ceasefire, and has provided humanitarian assistance to help ease the humanitarian plight in Gaza. During China’s rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council last year, the first resolution since this round of conflict was adopted, beginning initial steps toward a ceasefire.

President Xi Jinping put forward the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind in 2013. China advocates building an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity, and it makes the international order more just and equitable. Over the past decade, the concept has gained greater global influence and appeal, gathering broad international consensus and injecting strong confidence, courage, and strength into joint efforts to build a better world.

The historical glimpses in the exhibition in the airport left visitors with long-lasting reflections. For many years, people have turned their attention to Gander and honoured its memory, for the story here holds the common aspirations of people of all countries for peace and the cherished values of unity and cooperation.

Looking ahead, China will continue to shoulder its responsibility as a major country, champion peaceful development, and work with all countries to contribute to global stability and prosperity.


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