Commemorate Global Earth Day - Plant a Tree of Friendship

updated April 10, 2000

The site of the Chinese American Friendship Forest, before planting began
It is approximately one-year since the Virtual Foundation initiated the Chinese American Friendship Forest Project on May 11, 1999 a few days after the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Since that time, the need for and interest in The Virtual Foundation's Friendship Forest project has grown.

Over $2000 in small donations has been donated and used to establish this initiative. Read on for more project information. While you read, please consider planting a tree as a symbol of your desire for global peace and cooperation. You may use your own name or dedicate your tree in the name of a friend. If you like this page, don't forget to tell a friend.

On Saturday May 22, 1999 one hundred sixty volunteers of all ages boarded three buses in downtown Beijing and headed for the Badaling section of the Great Wall west of the city to plant trees The effort was organized by the Green Earth Volunteers, the Virtual Foundation's partner in China. Each participant in the activity paid his or her own way.

In a narrow valley at the base of a mountain across which an ancient section of the Great Wall stretches, the volunteers started to plant the Chinese American Friendship Forest. The first three trees planted were dedicated to the memory of the three Chinese journalists who died in the Belgrade bombing. Over the next few hours, approximately two hundred additional trees were planted on the steep hillsides by the volunteers. Elderly retirees scaled the mountain side and joined school children. Two young toddlers spent the entire time planting their tree, filling in around the roots with their small plastic shovels and pails.

The Green Earth Volunteers planting the Friendship Forest. The tree in the foreground is on of 3 commemorating the Chinese journalists killed in the Belgrade bombing.
The Virtual Foundation initiated the Chinese American Friendship Forest Randy Kritkausky, representing the Virtual Foundation, read a proclamation of commitment to continuing the Friendship Forest project. This American initiative is the first manifestation of U.S. involvement in the International Forestry project region set aside by the Chinese government for international reforestation projects at the Great Wall, where deforestation one thousand years ago had left the mountain sides barren.

Chinese media covered the event. BTV-1, Beijing's main TV station, reported on the Chinese American Friendship Forest during the evening daily news and carried a detailed fifteen minute story on "Good Morning Beijing". Millions in Beijing watch these broadcasts.

Since this gesture of friendship and reconciliation, new reports of Chinese spying at U.S. nuclear facilities have appeared. Tensions between the U.S. and China continue to increase. Never-the-less, as The New York Times reported on May 27, 1999 in a story titled "On Unofficial Level, at Least, Chinese Value Ties to the U.S.," people to people links between the two nations continue.

The next generation of Green Earth Volunteers helps to plant the Chinese American Friendship Forest
The Virtual Foundation's Chinese American Friendship Forest Project is designed to insure that such informal lines of communication remain open. Neither the U.S. nor China can afford to allow escalating tensions to boil over and to usher in a new Cold War era. It is the responsibility of the citizens of our two nations to provide a calm and rational atmosphere in which diplomacy can work to resolve conflicts.

We invite you to contribute to the Chinese American Friendship Forest and to affirm your support for continued friendly relations between the people of our two countries, despite political tensions.

The Chinese American Friendship Forest project will take dedication and hard work; the trees - as well as the water needed to sustain them - must be carried up steep hillsides and over difficult terrain. Local foresters have agreed to assist the Green Earth Volunteers and will dig the holes for the trees (which would take weeks otherwise, given the rocky soil) and supply water.

Your donation of only $5 will purchase one tree and cover the costs for its planting and care. We urge you to support this very important initiative. Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the Chinese American Friendship Forest may do so by making a donation through the Virtual Foundation website, or by calling our toll free number at (888) 801-7101.

  • View the last update, May 21, 1999.

  • View the press release for the Chinese American Friendship Forest.

  • View the project proposal for the Chinese American Friendship Forest.