Interview with Li Ruo Hong, President of the China World Peace Foundation

It’s not every day that you come across a person with such a generous heart as Li Ruo Hong, the president and founder of the China World Peace Foundation. Not only is he a successful entrepreneur in a multi-industrial enterprise with international diplomatic experience, but he also holds several substantive positions in the private and non-profit sector, such as: President, China-Tunisia Entrepreneurs Association; President, China-Morocco Ibn Battuta Friendship Association; President, China-Senegal Friendship Association; Honorary President, Guinea-China Friendship Association; Director, China-Pakistan Science and Technology Development Centre; Director, International Relations Research Center, University of Alberta, Canada ; Director, Peace and Education Centre, Victoria University, Switzerland; and Director, NGO Researching Centre, Beijing University. (cancel this )We had the opportunity of meeting him in New York while he was attending the ECOSOC seminar on Public Private Partnership in Education –– a field close to his heart. Mr Li is also Asian region Chairman of the newly established Global Partnership Forum.
Q: Could you tell us about the Foundation?
It is an international non-governmental organization leading the social reform of China. It is inspired by my book entitled “NGOs in China” and also by a “Peace Garden” –– an international meeting place in China used as a platform for exchanges with governments and civil society in different countries. This significant contribution to peace work has been supported by the governments of 178 countries and international organizations. The China World Peace Foundation, which employs 200 people, has set up different kinds of projects in different countries, such as peace and culture, peace and education, peace and sports, peace and health, peace and environment, etc. Its income from these projects is used to finance causes of international public welfare. In order to maintain the sustainable development of these projects, it strengthens co-operative partnerships combining multi-national enterprises, financial organizations, academic institutions and cultural associations. It also obtains support from the governments of different countries. It has set up a global co-operative network to promote ideological communication between international societies and strongly supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
In the past, the industries receiving our investments include culture, tourism, commerce, medical care, real estate, petroleum, telecommunication, science and technology, amongst others. In August 1992 I invested 220 hectares of land in the downtown area of Beijing. Today, this has become the biggest international community in the city –– King’s Garden Villas, which attracts a number of ambassadors, diplomats, representatives of multi-national enterprises and well-known persons from both home and abroad. I gave the compound the theme of “World Peace” and named part of it as “The Peace Garden”. Along the lake of the “Peace Garden” a series of “One Country, One Stone” presents the warm wishes for world peace written by 178 leaders of international organizations and ambassadors of different countries. This Peace Garden, also called the “mini UN”, has been warmly welcomed by international society.
I have also started to contribute to several platforms for communication and co-operation between governments and non-governmental organizations. To keep sustainable development, it has been covering the fields of culture, tourism, medicine, education, investment, trade, finance, etc. Friendly co-operation and strategic partnerships have been established with governments of different countries, finance institutions and large enterprises.
Q: Why have you created a number of research centres?
We have set up research centres in four universities. The aim is to develop advanced educational technology for under-developed countries. I was, in fact, inspired by the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, an organization with which I am in regular contact. I wanted to do this because during my frequent visits to African countries I saw that they are often behind in the area of education. I have a group people who have written popular science books for children and these are being distributed in some African countries.
When it comes to peace and sports, we have set up a research team which is supported by H.R.H. Prince Albert of Monaco. In the future, three organizations will jointly arrange forums, arrange national and international championships, establish world champion club, and will support underdeveloped countries with sports activities. More than eighty countries around the world are interested. I believe that there are no boundaries between culture, sports and peace, so this is a very good way of establishing relationships with other countries. We decided to encourage cultural exchanges between China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
In summary, what the World Peace Foundation has done is as follows: first, we have published a book on “NGOs in China”; second, there is the line of rocks with inscriptions in the Peace Garden; and third is to develop “peace plus one” program.
On the subject of peace and development, there is a great deal of talk but little or no concrete action. This is the reason why we present people with tangible programmes so that people will know what it’s all about. All of these programmes are supported by different government and therefore I have created some friendship associations with different countries –– Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, etc.
For developed countries, I would also like to set up research centres, as for developing countries.
Q: When did you start?
I started ten years ago and I started everything from scratch.
At the beginning of my career I was a government official in the Ministry of Trade(cancel) and then I started to do business. When my business ventures succeeded I made a lot of money. I then stopped my business activities and I started with international welfare which is taking form people and returning to people. I wanted to give to others and to share my good fortune with those who are less fortunate than myself.
The people working in the China World Peace Foundation have love in their hearts, and they contribute with their energy and enthusiasm to this international process. A Chinese expression says that your two shoulders represent responsibility and harmony. We normally say that there is only nationalism, but then there is internationalism. So you should have a broad mind. You should look not only at the 1.3 billion Chinese, but you should think about the 6.8 billion people on Earth. In that way, people will think in a broader way and we will all work happily with what each has to donate.
Q: Is your foundation very well known in China?
The Chinese government is familiar with our work, and so are many local governments, as well as many international organizations. We maintain contacts with both international organizations and governments. The friendship organization in the Mongolian Republic needed vehicles so we donated vehicles to them. In the Maldives we assisted them too. We used different ways to help dozens of countries.
At the same time other organizations donate aid through our organization. For instance, when the 2008 Earthquake happened in China foreign organizations used the China World Peace Foundation as a channel to donate aid.
Q: If you had a message for the international community, what would that be?
On last year’s August, Switzerland government commissioner for China Mr. Thomas took part in our opening ceremony of Peace and Education Center. I hope that diplomats in Switzerland will support the China World Peace Foundation. It is also my wish that we can collaborate in the future in order to do something for world peace. As things stand at this present time diplomats and the diplomacy are essential for world peace, so only through co-operation that we will achieve this.