BEIJING: China on Tuesday awarded the top 10 international friends selected by Internet users for "making exceptional contributions to the country in the past 100 years."
Those who came onto the list include Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor who died during the anti-Japanese war in the 1930s for saving Chinese soldiers; John Rabe, a German who rescued 250,000 Chinese people during the Nanjing Massacre committed by the Japanese invaders; Juan Antonio Samaranch Toriello, honorary president of the International Olympic Committee who supported China's bid for the 2008 Olympics; Edgar Snow, an American journalist who wrote the renowned book "Red Star over China" in the 1930s to make the Chinese Red Army world famous; Dr. Joseph Needham, a British scientist who spent some 50 years writing a milestone masterpiece "Science and Civilization in China".
Also on the list are Poland-born Chinese citizen Israel Epstein, New Zealand educator Rewi Alley, Indian doctor Kwarkanath Kotnis, Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhom and Morihiko Hiramatsu of Japan.
Top political advisor Jia Qinglin extended appreciation for the great support and help of the prize winners and their representatives, adding the Chinese people would never forget their contribution.
"China cannot develop without the support of foreign friends from various countries, neither can the world proper in the absence of China," said Jia, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, while meeting with the winner or their representatives.
As globalization continues, countries and people around the world need to enhance understanding and boost cooperation to promote world peace and development, he said.
"The Chinese people are willing to join hands with friends around the world to contribute to the building of a harmonious and beautiful world," he said.
Princess Sirindhom said she was greatly moved to receive the honor, as that meant the Chinese people had never forgotten those old friends who had extended helping hands to China.
The online voting was organized by China Radio International as part of the activities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Altogether 56 million eligible votes had been collected in the voting which lasted from Aug. 31 to Oct.10.