Appreciating the great contributions: China Daily editorial
The air raid siren across Shenyang, Liaoning province, at 9:18 am on Wednesday was a reminder of the pain and humiliation foreign invaders heaped on the Chinese people for more than a century before the founding of New China in 1949. The siren to mark the 88th anniversary of the Mukden Incident the Japanese invaders staged on Sept 18, 1931, to launch a full-scale invasion of China recalled not only the atrocities committed by the foreign invaders on the Chinese people but also the heroic battles the Chinese people have fought throughout China's recent history.
While the outstanding contributions of the Chinese people as well as foreign friends before and in the early days of New China are well recorded and appreciated, there was also a need to recognize individuals' contributions to the development of the nation in recent decades.
President Xi Jinping fulfilled that need on Tuesday by signing a decree to award 36 Chinese citizens and six foreign nationals, including some posthumously, national medals and honorary titles for their excellent contributions to the country's development and world peace.
That the presidential decree came after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted a resolution to confer the medals and titles shows the great importance China attaches to their contributions and, more importantly, to their spirit.
The Chinese awardees, as representatives of the countless unsung heroes, exemplify the contributions ordinary people have made to the country's development.
Tragically, the two youngest heroes were only 29 years old when they died in 2016 — one in the line of duty as a UN peacekeeper in Somalia, and the other while performing a task for the naval air force of the People's Liberation Army.
The awarding of the Friendship Medal to six foreigners — former Cuban president Raul Castro, Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, former Tanzanian prime minister Salim Ahmed Salim, first vice-president of Russia-China Friendship Association Galina Kulikova, former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Canadian educator Isabel Crook — shows the Chinese people not only recognize foreigners' contributions but are also grateful to them for promoting cooperation between China and other countries and supporting China's socialist modernization.
Thanks partly to such individuals' efforts, China has become the biggest supporter of economic globalization, which advances the common good and benefits the whole world.
And the excellent examples these individuals have set should inspire the Chinese people to emulate them in order to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.