Michael Bates (left) poses with his Chinese-born wife, Xuelin on a charity walk in China. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
"I am a witness and beneficiary of China's reform and opening-up policy," said Li Xuelin, or Lady Bates, chairwoman of Zhejiang UK Association.
The policy enabled her to get educated at Zhejiang University in the 1980s and go to London for further education.
During her time in the UK, Li at first worked at the John R. Harris Partnership, a British architectural studio, and then built her own business in importing Chinese commodities to British companies. In her spare time, she also redesigned and renovated old houses and sold or rented them on the housing market.
For some overseas Chinese, it is difficult to leave their comfort zone and integrate themselves into the foreign society. However, Li said to actively learn more about the country they are working or living in is a good idea to contribute to the mutual exchanges between China and the country.
Li participated in many charitable activities where she became acquaintances with numerous British people, including her husband British Minister of State for International Development Lord Michael Bates.
After getting married, they devoted themselves to charity walks around the world. From 2011 to 2018, the couple has walked in 25 countries, traveling an accumulated distance of 13,236 kilometers. During the walks, they collected over £850,000 ($1.08 million) for international charity organizations.
In 2015, the couple came to China for a charity walk. Travelling from Beijing to Hangzhou, capital city of East China's Zhejiang province, the 1,700-kilometer journey took them 71 days.
This year, they came to China to walk for a second time. To mark the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, Lord Bates wrote stories about Chinese people they met on the journey in the hope of reflecting the changes of the country that have taken place over the past four decades.
Li thought China-UK relations have entered a new era and the Chinese people in the UK should seize the opportunities and serve as bridges for better communications.