|When the tough get going|
English.news.cn 2011-10-25 14:57:35
By Mei Jia
Former vice-minister of commerce Wei Jianguo, 64, recalls with pride the time in 1992, when he stood up and spoke openly to China' "Iron Lady", former vice-premier Wu Yi, about the obstacles in Sino-African trade and their solutions. It is from that year that the total trade volume between the two sides began to grow - from less than $1 billion to $126.9 billion in 2010.
Wei, who had just returned from
He remembers the jitters he had before giving his speech, which turned out to impress Wu.
"My words caught Wu's attention because I understand Africa, and
Currently serving on the country's prestigious think tank, the
Hu Kaimin, associate editor-in-chief of the Foreign Languages Press, who is working on the English and French versions of the book with Bertelsmann, says his team expects to present the book to international readers in early 2012.
"Wei has told a wonderful story of personal growth - from being a language student to a high-level official," Hu says.
"Meanwhile, the book details the history of Sino-Africa relations and of the formation of
Wei says, "All my life I've been doing one single thing: working with African countries and its people.
"My connections with
Born to a family of modest means in
He says the events of his childhood, the struggling country and its effort to be stronger, struck him deeply.
While he was working hard to enter a military college, he received an unexpected chance to become one of only four students in the province allowed to skip the college entrance exams and go to university to learn foreign languages as diplomat candidates (so-called for being guaranteed a job in the ministry right after graduation).
He recalls being more shocked than happy.
Giving up his childhood dream was only the first of many tough decisions that Wei, faced with the twists and turns of life, has made over the years.
"When I look back, I see that when fate closed one door, it opened another for me," Wei says. "My choices were guided by this simple rule: to stay faithful to the ones who helped me, to my country and to my heart."
It is this same belief that helped him survive the labors in rural
One of the people Wei impressed on a plane back from a visit to African countries in 2008 was Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Party's Central Committee.
"Li suggested I write a book to sum it (his life story) up, which he said would make an interesting and inspiring read," Wei says, adding that he took the next two years to complete the book.
Li commends Wei's efforts in the preface, calling the book a vivid history, a travel guide and a growing-up story.
"Wei's story tells that only when personal pursuits are in line with the country's bigger picture, will people find and realize their value," Li writes, adding the book is a good role model for younger readers.
He Song, a young official from the West Asian and African Affairs Department of the Ministry of Commerce, says he felt inspired after reading Wei's book.
After working at Chinese embassies in
A defining quality of his life is his persistence. While in
He began by establishing
Eventually, he opened up a new path.
Wei readily admits to his tenacity and credits his strong will power to his daily jogs - a habit that has stayed with him since his school days.
"I've been to 218 countries, and have always lugged my jogging gear," he says, "Excuses for a rest are many as I travel a lot, but I tell myself the moment I step out and close the door behind me, I can win, (yet) again."
The think-tank member believes that
"I believe, counting on Africa's huge progress recently, the trade volume between the two sides will reach $300 billion in three to five years," Wei says, "which means Africa will become part of the team A of China's trading partners."