Beijing Review: Global youth delve into China’s development landscape

Beijing Review: Global youth delve into China’s development landscape

BEIJING, July 1, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Juan Camilo Camargo Amaya, from Colombia, was excited after attending a weeklong youth exchange program in China in June, describing it as “an outstanding experience.”

It was his first time traveling to the country. “Getting to know China has been a dream of mine for a long time. I do think China is an example of innovation, of progress… And being able to be here to experience that and see this beautiful scenery and how China has progressed over the past several years, is outstanding,” he told Beijing Review during the trip. 

Camargo Amaya is global director of business solutions at Mentors international, a Colombia-based non-profit agency that operates in developing countries to uplift individuals and families from the generational cycle of poverty. This year was the second time Camargo Amaya had applied to participate—and received an invitation.

The program he participated in is the 2024 Future Close-Up, which was jointly launched in 2023 by China International Communications Group (CICG) Center for the Americas and tech titan Tencent’s Marketing and Public Relations Department.

The program brings together experts and young adults working in a range of fields from both China and other countries to engage in discussions and exchange perspectives on the current landscape and potential opportunities generated by new technologies.

From June 13 to 21, the 2024 Future Close-Up hosted 27 youth representatives from 21 countries and regions, including China, the United States, Russia, Germany, Italy, Thailand and Japan, on a tour departing from Beijing, taking them to Shenyang in China’s northeastern province of Liaoning and Xiongan New Area in Hebei Province.

Fellow Future Close-Up participant Phillip Forman, co-founder of U.S. art tech company Vie Science, said that as a tech entrepreneur, he was very interested in learning about technology development in China and hoped to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences contributing to the rapid growth.

“I’m excited to meet new people who are building the future. Also, I have an international background and have been learning Russian and Chinese for a few years now, so I’m very interested to finally meet and communicate with people working in those geographies,” he said.

Elena Poliakova, a Russian assistant professor at a business school in France, was eager to get a grasp on China’s fast-growing technology industry and discuss the critical questions of how technology affects the economy, culture and everyday life.

A tale of two cities 

This year’s Future Close-Up was themed on Exploring New Quality Productive Forces. China’s concept of “new quality productive forces” refers to the shift toward innovation-driven growth, technological advancement and high-quality development in different sectors of the economy.

In Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning, Liaoning Governor Li Lecheng met with the young participants on June 15. Li said that the province is accelerating its cultivation of new quality productive forces to maintain a stable, upward trajectory of economic growth.

Li hoped for every participant to get the chance to explore Liaoning’s high-quality development and experience the hospitality of its locals. He encouraged the youth representatives to deepen their understanding of the province and actively promote Liaoning by sharing their experiences of how it is revitalizing itself.

In Liaoning, advantages in developing new quality productive forces include a strong industrial base, a highly advanced manufacturing sector, a cohort of open platforms and opportunities for collaboration, Li Jun, Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce of Liaoning, introduced to the participants at an event on June 15.

Ng Yuk Yeung Paul, Executive Vice Chairman and co-CEO of Hong Kong South China Holdings Co. Ltd. and Executive President of the Hong Kong Federation of Liaoning Associations, said at the event that the province is rich not only in industrial legacies, but also in mineral and tourism resources. Besides, it is also a major hub for agricultural production. All these elements combined mean great growth potential.

Simon Buschges, a German working for a French consultancy, was happy to see the strong economic ties between Shenyang and Germany, evidenced by the lively scenes at the China-Germany Enterprise International Innovation Incubation Center and along the Sino-German International Street in Shenyang.

Buschges also found it interesting that, much like Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative, a project for the comprehensive digitalization of industrial production, China is pushing forward this type of development. “It’s right to think big, to see what’s possible and go beyond just what is currently the norm, and to take the next step and promote new things,” he said.

In Xiongan New Area, 2024 Future Close-Up attendees visited different sites to get a firsthand understanding of the area’s planning and development. The smart city left a deep impression on the youth representatives.

“The establishment of Xiongan New Area in Hebei is a historic and strategic decision to advance the coordinated development of the BeijingTianjinHebei region. It is a project of millennial significance and a matter of national importance,” Wang Jiping, Director of Government Office of Xiongan New Area, told the young adults at a welcome dinner on June 18.

Wang said that over the past seven years, Xiongan New Area had achieved important milestones. It is rapidly developing into a city of future that blends Eastern and Western elements, a green and low-carbon city, a hub of digital innovation, a happy and livable city, and an open urban area that embraces diversity.

“Xiongan belongs not only to China, but to the world,” Wang said, adding that he encouraged the young representatives to explore and experience Xiongan’s remarkable advantages in new quality productive forces, feel the warmth of its people, and share its story with the international community.

Forman said that what had surprised him most about Xiongan was the area’s stipulation that blue and green spaces must consistently account for 70 percent of the area. He believed this to be an essential feature because discussions on large cities often tend to overlook the natural and ecological aspects.

Prior to kicking off the area’s construction, Xiongan’s urban planners and builders visited some 20 countries to learn from their urban development experiences and then tailored these insights to their unique situation, a feat that left quite the impression on Forman.

Alland Dharmawan, Personal Assistant to the Advisor to the President at Presidential Advisory Council of the Republic of Indonesia, said there is much to learn from Xiongan in terms of green development. He mentioned that Indonesia is currently building its new capital, Nusantara, on Kalimantan Island, a place rich in tropical rainforest resources.

Like Xiongan, the intention is to make Nusantara a green city because, looking to the future, the greening of cities is the direction every country aspires to. Addressing global challenges such as climate change requires not only promoting economic development but also taking good care of the environment, he said.

Understanding China 

Erik Solheim, co-Chair of the Europe Asia Center and former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, addressed the youth via video link at the 2024 Future Close-Up closing ceremony on June 20. 

Solheim, who first visited China 40 years ago, recalled there were almost no skyscrapers or private cars in China back then. No one even contemplated high speed rail.

“In these 40 years, China has gone from being a very poor society to close to becoming a higher income country with enormous modernity and huge progress for everyone,” he said. “Remarkably, the transformation is also very green.”

China has largely won the war on pollution with notable improvements in air quality, he added. It has also become a leader in photovoltaic and wind power, electric vehicles and other green technologies.

“Seeing is believing. China has now become one of the most modernized countries in the world. I hope everyone can return to their hometowns with these wonderful memories,” Solheim said.

In his speech at the closing ceremony, Editor in Chief of CICG Gao Anming said that today’s China showcases a harmonious blend of traditional culture and modern trends, where historical heritage complements technological innovation. Gao welcomed all the attending young people to visit China more often, introducing the world’s diverse civilizations to the Chinese people and sharing the essence of Chinese civilization with people everywhere.

“The Future Close-Up program aims to help young people around the world better understand China, serving as a platform for youth to promote exchange between China and foreign countries,” Gao added.

In his address, Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, mentioned that China’s per-capita GDP was around $180 back in 1979 and 90 percent of the population was very poor, while most countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 1979 had a per-capita GDP of close to $400. “Today, [China has] achieved a per-capita GDP of about $12,500,” he emphasized.

Chatterjee further explained how the China’s investments in human capital, infrastructure and commerce had created the “bedrock of the country’s rise.”

Maisy Ho Chiu Ha, Executive Director of Shun Tak Holdings Ltd. and President of the Hong Kong Federation of Liaoning Associations, said via video link that the federation, as one of the hosts of this event, aims to fully utilize the platform to tell the stories of China, including Hong Kong, to the world.

Li Yafang, President of CICG Center for Americas, told the young representatives she believes youth bear the mission and responsibility of building a better world. She encouraged program participants to raise their voices and contribute their efforts to building a community with a shared future for humanity.

“Let us jointly sow the seeds of cultural exchange and friendship, cultivate a beautiful world, and make the garden of world civilizations colorful and vibrant,” Li Yafang concluded.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

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SOURCE Beijing Review

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