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CCTV News reporter Fei Ye interviewing Harold Weldon, who retraced the Long March when he was 19 years old. His family's connection with China spans three generations starting with his father Kevin Weldon and now to his nephew Michael Young.(Photo/Agencies)
CCTV News reporter Fei Ye with Harold Weldon, CEO of Weldon Global.(Photo/Agencies)
At the Beijing Book Fair. Harold Weldon published his second book called China the New Long March this year, where he and his nephew Michael retrace the Long March again.(Photo/Agencies)
Filming Harold Weldon, CEO of Weldon Global talking to people from Qingdao Publishing Group.(Photo/Agencies)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. Our reporter Fei Ye tells us how an Australian family's relationship with China spans 3 generations with a particular connection to a Chinese historical event.

In 1985 a 19-year-old Australian man named Harold Weldon came to China to retrace the Long March together with 18 photographers and filmmakers traveling on the same roots as the Red Army documenting every step of the way. They published a picture book called China The Long March, which was one of the first foreign projects giving the outside world a look into China. But all this fascination with China goes back to the matriarch of the family, Harold’s father, Kevin Weldon.

Kevin Weldon, chairman of Weldon International, said, “When I was 14 dger snow wrote a book about the long march and I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful that one day to see the chain bridge and all of the things being illustrated by pictures and that’s what people say to me, why did I decide to do that long march I just want to bring the light and share the world the 10 thousand km march that they undertook.”

Historically the Long March was a military retreat undertaken by the Communist Party in 1934 to evade the pursuit of the Nationalist army. Mao Zedong with some 80,000 soldiers escaped and traveled over 12,000 km over one year. The route passed through some of the most difficult terrain of western China. Only about 9,000 survived with an establishment of a new Communist base.

Harold Weldon, CEO of Weldon International, said, “I think dad was taking it as we were all are by the adventure more than the politics. So dad really filled me with these stories and at the same time coincidentally I was studying them in high school. It seemed that I was destined to have a future to come to China. He really felt it was the vehicle to show the world China today at the time in 1985. Built an amazing bridge between China and Australia and through Australia you can show China to the rest of the world.”

Kevin Weldon waited almost 4 decades before coming to China in 1984 to lay down the groundwork for the Long March book project. His son Harold’s Long March trip was possible because in 1972 China and Australia formally established diplomatic relations with each other. Gough Whitlam was the first Prime Minister of Australia who came to China and signed a trade agreement.

Harold Weldon said, “We were one of the first foreign companies to assist China going out. It was a time of great intrigue and interest to the west not knowing anything about China.”

It was Harold’s first trip to China. The team traveled over a month on the same route as the red army trying to discover an unknown China amazed and enchanted by the people they met.

Harold Weldon said, “We traveled with a couple of liaison guys. And one of them is Li Dong and from then on we became great friends like brothers. We were quite a small team. Everywhere we went people haven’t really seen a foreigner. That journey starts in Jiangxi province then west to Sichuan in the grassland. There thousands of people watching us. It was quite an amazing experience.”

Li said, “I’ve known him since he was 19. I’m probably the first person he met in China. He was a very tall just a boy and you know that time china just opened the door, we are not very familiar with the western culture so for me I thought that was like the son of a rich white capitalist.”

Kevin Weldon has already passed the torch to his son Harold Weldon and now to his grandson Michael Young. In 2011, in commemorating the 75th year anniversary of the Long March, Harold Weldon and his nephew Michael have set foot again on the historic journey. They published their second book, China the New Long March this year.

Harold Weldon said, “We wanted to portray very much the people story so when people look at the book this whole internal of china is under construction in every step of the way the people the development that’s happening and just for people to see geographically images of China. I guess undiscovered china.”

Michael Young said, “I guess it was a drive of a sense of adventure, and my uncle worked on the first one I heard his stories since I was a little kid, it’s wonderful about china. So I thought it was a one in a lifetime opportunity. Not many times you get to travel 10,000 km of a country as a photographer.”

Harold Weldon said, “It was quite amazing in fact there are some photographs, that I’ve taken from my log book of me when I was the same age and with mikky and we really looked the same with similar poses so there’s some sort of faith with the story.

Reporter: “Weldon would like to use the long march project as a break point to introduce china’s 75-year changes to the world; the changes in its economy, tourism environment and trade.”

Over the course of years, China has become Australia’s number one market with trade volume increasing to over 100 billion US dollars. Apart from traditional trade ties, such as iron ore and mineral products, a new area of trade is booming, which include exchanges between students, tourism, law firms, financial services and many more. To foster that sector Harold is also a foreign advisor for the international cooperation center to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Harold Weldon said, “For me I’m very proud of that because the meaning behind that role is to really have a connection between AUS and China. I think it’s good advice for western business coming in, really you have to look at it in the long term otherwise you shouldn’t come to china if you just want some quick fix. It’s about staying long enough to understand the management of who they are dealing with.”

Harold Weldon said, “This is a new opportunity with the new leadership like our family’s history with china, I think we can play a role to have with the amazing stories and bring that context into China”

Wu Shulin said, “What you and your family have done is tremendous. So for you to continue to work with the Chinese people I think is very smart.”

China and Australia will move from just relationship from the complementarity to which is really underpinned by mutual understanding. Trust and design to work together. Harold’s relationship with China is also contributed by his close knight relationship with his Chinese friends. In a way he grew up with these people being there and supporting each other in many years.

Friend said, "To me before he was a very hard working young man, a promising young man from Australia. He is more mature now. He is like his father, looks like a real entrepreneur."

Harold Weldon said, “you sometimes communicate with hands gestures but I consider these people some of my best friends in the world.”

China is seeking to make its economy more sustainable domestically, and more competitive globally. The changes to China’s economic growth model and its competitive standing in the world will have profound implications for Australia. Friendship, collaboration, understanding and acceptance are key to further development.

Harold Weldon said, “I always feel that Australia inevitable we are a middle power just over 20 million people about the population of Beijing. So our role is never to matching things with the US or with China, but in someway we have a soft gateway role, there so many areas of Australian expertise that are world’s best practice that we need to transform beyond the mining story and of course I will always be the one saying that the best way to do it is through cultural exchange through cultural awareness trade increases.”

Harold Weldon said, “I wish that all of my family members can come on this journey and be completely taken over by the feeling of China, and realize what an incredible country it is what an inspiration it is”

Young said, “I strongly believe that I don’t think it was planned but I think I will follow the family and will be doing lots of work in China.”

Kelvin Weldon said, “We feel secure to have china as friend same as during the second world war having America as friends. I think that I would be wish that china support us if anybody tried to hurt us.”

Source: SinaEnglish


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