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Chinese visitors tour the Plateau

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By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

A seven-member delegation from the People's Republic of China visited the 31st Legislative District on Thursday stopping in Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw. The group was hosted by state Rep. Dan Roach, (R-Bonney Lake).

Delegation members began their trip in Washington D.C., and traveled to Arkansas before making their final stop in Washington state. The group was part of a bilateral exchange program sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders and the All-China Youth Federation.

The Chinese delegation was lead by Mr. Liu Kewei, executive vice president of the Chinese Association of Youth Newspapers and Magazines.

Other members of the diverse group were Ms. Ye Xiaoying, the chief judge of the Second Criminal Court of the Supreme People's Court, one of the youngest female judges in Chinese history.

The second woman in the delegation was Ms. Li Peixia, deputy directory-general of Enforcement Bureau One of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Dr. Chen Wei is the president of the Shandong Provincial Youth Federation. Mr. Kong Qiang is the division chief of the China Training Center for Senior Personnel Management Officials.

Mr. Shi Yaoyu is a research fellow in the China Youth and Juvenile Research Center.

Mr. Chen Peng is the program officer of the International Department of the All China Youth Federation.

The delegation's trip to the 31st district began Thursday with a public education conference at White River High School. Superintendent Jay Hambly and White River High School Principal Keith Banks led a discussion about the academic goals of their education program.

The delegation followed the conference with lunch in the cafeteria. They were joined by seven high-school students along with the superintendent and principal. Questions and answers flowed easily through the interpreters as both the students and the delegates learned about each other's cultures.

After the high school visit, the delegation traveled to Buckley to meet Mayor John Blanusa and tour the city. Mr. Liu said he and the other delegates "loved the Buckley mayor."

Following Buckley, they went to Enumclaw where they met with Mayor John Wise and the delegation was presented with gifts from the Chamber of Commerce.

They toured the town with the mayor and visited Tuttle's Gun Store.

According to Roach, the Second Amendment of the Constitution is an area of great interest to the delegates.

"The Second Amendment and the right to bear arms was one of their first questions," Roach said. "They were very interested in visiting a gun shop to see what guns a law-abiding citizen could buy."

At 5:30 p.m., at the request of the delegation, they visited the Starbucks in Bonney Lake.

Mr. Chen noted Starbucks had opened a store recently in Beijing.

"It is very popular, especially with young people," Mr. Chen said. "Chinese people are really enjoying coffee and we love the Starbucks in Beijing."

While at the Starbucks, the delegation was able to ask questions of Bonney Lake Police Officer Jeff Bennett and Pierce County Sheriff Jeff Galloway and tour the police vehicles.

The day ended with a farewell dinner at the home of Roach and his wife Melanie.

"This has been a tremendous learning experience," Roach said of the delegation's visit. "The most important thing is the understanding gained between two groups, from different sides of the world. When we all get together you realize people are the same. The policy is different, the government is different, yet people are the same anywhere you go."

Roach noted that issues which seem black and white from a U.S. perspective are less clear cut from a different perspective.

"Take population control. That would never happen in the United States," Roach said. "But in China they have over a billion people they're trying to feed. You hear about population control in China and on its face value you think it's crazy, but once you start talking as friends, you find out what people are thinking and what's behind the policy."

This was Mr. Liu's first trip to America and he noted after 10 days he had a much deeper understanding of the United States.

"My first impression is the United States is a very economically developed country," Mr. Liu said. "This is a very strong country, and very friendly to us."

Ms. Ye felt the judicial systems in America was much different from China's, particularly concerning weapons.

"Chinese people are not allowed to have a gun according to our law," Ms Ye said. "So there are very few criminal cases with guns. My hope is our friends will learn more about the Chinese judicial system. To my surprise Americans don't know about our system."

Both Mr. Liu and Ms. Ye are watching their country change as the outside world - through cable television, movies and the Internet - infiltrates the ancient Chinese culture.

"China is getting more open," Mr. Liu said. "The young people in China love to watch American movies produced by Hollywood. Many of their impressions about America come from American movies, also TV and the Internet. Chinese students know a great deal about the United States, but I think the American students knew very little about China."

Mr. Chen works extensively with young people in China and he is acutely aware of the change in the younger generation in China.

"As we are more open and learn more, the youth change faster. It is the same across the world," Mr. Chen said. "The youth are changing so fast. We can't ignore them. The only way is to communicate and make friends."

Of the three destinations the delegation visited, Mr. Chen stated he enjoyed Washington the most.

"It is very beautiful here," Mr. Chen said. "And the people have been very friendly."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com

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