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June 3, 2023

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No matter what happens, true friendship perseveres

THE English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said: “Without friends, the world is but a wilderness.”

Small wonder that Chinese, like nearly all other languages in the world, have sayings describing bosom buddies and true friendship.

One of the most widely quoted expressions about true friendship in Chinese comes from a poem written by Wang Bo (AD 650-676) of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), after he bade farewell to his best friend, who was to take up an office in a remote area.

Two lines from the poem read hainei cunzhiji, tianya ruobilin, or literally “if you have a bosom friend in the world, no matter how far away he is, the two of you would be just as close as next-door neighbors.”

In other words, good friends are good friends, no matter how far away they are from each other.

Or more simply put, distance cannot keep two bosom friends apart.

Another popular saying, suihan zhi songbai, huannan jian zhenqing, can be roughly translated as “cold winter reveals the ever greenness of the pine and cedar; misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.”

The second Chinese saying here echoes the English expression, “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

So, it’s only when you are at the nadir of your life that you find out who are your true friends and who are just fair-weather friends.

From these two Chinese proverbs, one may conclude that true friendship prevails over distance and adversities.


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