Friendship Knows No Borders
A deafening silence lingered around them. 2 pairs of eyes glared intensely at the piece of finely polished wood. On it, an intricate map outlined the fine boundaries of the realm the two found themselves in. This was The Red Dragon, with its five-thousand-year long history named as one of the cradles of civilization, nowadays known in the common tongue as The People’s Republic of China. And there, indeed not far from where we can find the very birthplace of mankind itself, traveling on the swirling stream of the Yangtse river through cities of fame and fortune, we arrive at a province of astonishing beauty. Jiangsu. In this gem of a city lies the cradle of one of our titans currently interlocked in the battle of the ages.
The silence ensued. It was not his turn to decide.
A tiny drop of watery fluid fell from his opponent’s head, for he was not accustomed to the soaring heat that scorched their bodies on this particularly sunny afternoon in September. He could not rightfully call Jiangsu his home. His own cradle lies far beyond the mighty road that lead west in ancient times. The road leadsthrough the heat of the Taklamakan desert, through splendid Samarkand all the way to the bustling metropolis Constantinople. From Constantinople one would have to travel another two thousand eight hundred kilometers to the west to find the land that lies below the sea, where he came into existence. He had always had a great dream. He wanted to traverse the silk road and discover the mysteries that lie beyond it. The dream lead him towards a grand city that was a leading economic and cultural center in the dynasty that he now shared his newly chosen surname with, Tang. The name of this city, you ask? The Rising Prefecture, is known as Guangling to some and as Yangzhou to many.
“Pawn three one step forward!”, cried the foreigner suddenly yet decisively, breaking the silence.
Our titans, Henry Dou and Donald were engaged in a battle of one of the four traditional Chinese arts, chess. If I told you that the two of them were not playing international chess, would you believe it? But it is true! They are playing a game of Chinese chess. Even though the game was friendly, the situation was tense. It was a game of East versus West, native versus foreign, black versus red. The winner would claim eternal glory and, of course, bragging rights. The game was tense not only for this reason. Henry Dou did not know that his opponent had learned how to play Chinese chess the year before, and had played many a game versus native Chinese, both face-to-face and online! Even craftier, Donald had feigned beforehand that he even did not know the basic rules, and purposely misplaced the pieces on the board. It isn’t a surprise that the ever-smiling Henry quickly silenced, for he discovered a slight error, indicating that the true battle had begun. He had to accept the challenge. Let us take a step back, and let the two of them battle in peace, for as you may know, a proper game requires total silence.
Why do I want to share this story? I think that this story reflects the current situation in China and Jiangsu, and at the same time, it explains why I came to China in the first place. Nowadays many countries, for example those that participate in Belt and Road project, or those that receive investment from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, are shifting their focus away from the west. More than ever do people realize that the east, including China and Jiangsu, offersmany opportunities for growth, development and success. I am one of those people. I wish to thank the provincial government for supporting me, so that I am able to follow my dream of studying business and developing myself in a way I never thought possible. However, expressing gratitude is not the only reason why I want to share this story. Another reason is to share that the titans’ chess technique is …. O, no wait. The second reason is that I want to share words of wisdom; friendship knows no borders.
This is the story of how two young men from different backgrounds, through controlling different armies in a chess game became inseparable friends. This is a story of how East and West, native and foreign, black and red seize the opportunity to turn hostility into friendship.
The battle between the two titans had finally come to its end. Above the chessboard that still lied in their midst, now with much less pieces occupying the fine golden lines, a firm handshake confirmed the outcome. The atmosphere that had been so tense just moments before, eased up a hundred-fold in a flash, and continued exploded in into one that can only be described by those that have experienced sincere friendship. The nervous faces that could be seen just a moment ago now both showed a broad smile. However, a flicker in their eyes revealed what the words that lied in their hearts. “Another one.”
Dear reader, if you were to ask me who ultimately won the game, I could only say that we both won friendship!