Amb Tan Jian Paying Tribute to Dr. Mei Gengnian
On the Tomb-Sweeping Day
(April 5th, 2018, Jimma, Ethiopia)
Today is the Tomb Sweeping Day, an age-old tradition that we Chinese people give thanks to those passed away to whom we owe our debt.
As Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, I, together with my wife and my colleagues, came from the capital city Addis Ababa to Jima, to sweep the tomb of Dr. Mei Gengnian and pay tribute to him.
Dr. Mei was the leader of China's first medical corps sent to Ethiopia in 1974. He sacrificed his life in 1975 when practicing free medical service to local people near Jimma and was buried in the village.
I wish to thank the village people, Jima city, and Ethiopian people for taking care of the tomb and this site. Mrs Zewditu Hayle is with us today. Her family have been guarding and cleaning the tomb voluntarily for generations. Thank you Hayle.
Medical doctors are most respected for saving the lives and reducing suffering of the patients. Dr. Mei came from afar to Ethiopia for the charity work, promoting the friendship between our two peoples. He took Africans as brothers and sisters, embodying the spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism. He is like Dr. Norman Bethune, a Canadian who came to China to treat the wounded soldiers fighting the Japanese invaders in the 1930s, and gave his life in China.
It has been 43 years since Dr. Mei's departure. And the baton has been carried on. Since then, there have been more than 20 groups of medical service people from China, treating more than 2 million Ethiopian patients. In recent years, our medical cooperation has expanded to include fighting shoulder to shoulder with Africans against Ebola; carrying out the Smiling Children project by doing surgeries for children with severed palate; the Bright Journey project by doing eye surgeries for the blind so that they can see light again.
All for free.
Our bondage has become stronger, thanks to the hard work and fearless sacrifices by people like Dr. Mei.
Dr. Mei Gengnian would be very happy to see that the China-Ethiopia relationship is in its best stage today. But there is no room for complacency. Ethiopia is striving for poverty eradication, industrialization and transformation, aiming to become a middle-income country in 2025.
China will continue to support Ethiopia in this march.
Dr. Mei's spirit, which is hard working and fearless sacrifice, will continue to inspire us in promoting our bilateral friendship and cooperation.
Dr. Mei, you have been remembered, and loved by the Chinese people, the Ethiopia people, and African people.
You always live in our hearts.