International student and promoter of Lei Feng Spirit marvels at ‘miracle’ of China’s development and commitment to people
Young witnesses
Published: Mar 06, 2023 10:04 PM
Editor's Note: 

China's modernization has been an epic journey over the past decades. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has become an attractive destination for many foreigners. Many such expats in the country have fulfilled their career aspirations, while some have found love and started families in China.

Why do they choose to live in China? How do expats in China view and interpret China's achievements and persistence measured from various perspectives?

The Global Times interviewed multiple international residents in China from all walks of life, some of whom have made tangible contributions to China's development, to learn about their understanding of the essence of Chinese culture, and gain an insight into how far China has advanced in its pursuit of social and economic development and national rejuvenation over the last decades.

Members of Lei Feng International Volunteer Association commemorate the

Members of Lei Feng International Volunteer Association commemorate the "Lei Feng Day" with young students in East China's Jiangxi Province on March 5, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Mohammad Saiyedul Islam

Mohammad Saiyedul Islam, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi student, has become a foreign promoter of the Lei Feng Spirit. Lei Feng is a household name in China and a highly quotable Chinese soldier who died more than half a century ago but still lives in people's hearts today for his generosity and altruistic deeds.

March 5 marks "Lei Feng Day" in China. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the call to "Learn from Lei Feng" by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong and other older-generation revolutionaries. 

To celebrate the second anniversary of the establishment of his "Lei Feng International Volunteer Association," Islam traveled to Fushun - Lei Feng's second hometown and the birthplace of the Lei Feng Spirit in Northeast China's Liaoning Province - to find out the essence of the Chinese hero's values. 

Always show favor to people around you despite living in a strange land - this is how Lei Feng Spirit inspired Islam, a young Bangladeshi man. 

Islam, a PhD student majoring in international trade at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, came to China for further study in 2018. 

Since then, he has opened a window to a "magical China" via various works of volunteerism and in-person visits, discovering a country that is, in his words, "safe, peaceful, friendly, and responsible toward its people." He hopes to share real stories in China through the lens of these facts.

On March 5, 2021, Islam set up a volunteer group "Lei Feng International Volunteer Association" with the slogan "For a Smile." He gathered a group of enterprising and enthusiastic young people from different countries studying at the Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics to replicate Lei Feng's goodwill.

"Our volunteer association works with children with special needs, orphans, senior citizens, environmental protection awareness, student career development, and so on in collaboration with our university," he told the Global Times. "Now we have 12 countries represented from all over the world."

"The Lei Feng Spirit is the common positive spirit of mankind and the key to opening the door to understanding China. The love and friendship embodied by Lei Feng are also time-honored virtues since ancient times. The faith, great love, selflessness, and progress he represents encourage offering assistance to people the world over. We can, therefore, aim to build a global community with a shared future by spreading the Lei Feng Spirit globally," he noted.

Mohammad Saiyedul Islam  Photo: Courtesy of Mohammad Saiyedul Islam

Mohammad Saiyedul Islam Photo: Courtesy of Mohammad Saiyedul Islam

Fighting COVID-19 in his second home

When the COVID-19 struck, Islam stood with the Chinese people in their fight against the epidemic by volunteering to distribute supplies in schools and clearing up rumors about the epidemic. 

In his spare time, Islam also works as a journalist on China-related issues for the Bangladeshi satellite and cable news television channel DBC News, and the Bangladeshi English newspaper Business Standard. He debunked rumors via in-person interviews and opinion pieces when some foreign media sources attacked China's epidemic prevention policy.

"Some international media sources have published one-sided, biased, and confusing news reports on the epidemic in China. There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about China in the international community, even among my own country's people. Truth is paramount and I want to share the true stories about China, to be a true voice for the people of this country, and an honest commentator," Islam told the Global Times.

"The misinformation created panic and even spread to my family in Bangladesh, who asked me to return on numerous occasions. But I ultimately decided to stay in my adopted hometown, China," said Islam.

"It would not have been the right decision to leave China at that critical time. I had trust and confidence in the Chinese government and Chinese medical system. Besides, there is a saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Moreover, everything I have gotten here is beyond imagining, and also many of my dreams have come true," said Islam.

Seeing is believing 

In the eyes of Islam, "miracle" is a word he used to describe the numerous changes in many sectors in China over the last few decades, in terms of how it emerged from the ranks of less-developed countries to become one of the world's greatest economic powers; how it ultimately pulled hundreds of millions of people out of absolute poverty; and how it extends friendship to more countries via the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Islam has traveled to many cities in China and witnessed firsthand how the country has adapted its economic and ecological development to local conditions to achieve such a miracle. 

For instance, in September 2022, when Islam visited Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, he witnessed how some places had been transformed from large deserts into green oases, and how local people's lives have flourished by cultivating grapes in the desert. 

"China is a land of diversity and freedom, and each ethnic group in China enjoys equal rights. I have visited the homes of many ethnic minorities to learn about their ways of life. I have seen with my own eyes how free they are and what the Chinese government has done to encourage them to preserve their unique cultures. People live there harmoniously. This is the beauty of China," Islam said.

He also visited some rural areas to learn about the modernization of rural China via advanced technology in agricultural projects such as using drones to spread pesticides. "I am impressed by popular and thriving e-commerce across rural China as I usually see villagers selling their products via livestreaming broadcast thanks to the 5G internet." 

He believes that China's development model provides a new choice for developing countries, especially Asian countries, as it shows that developing countries "have the wisdom and ability to choose a development path and model that suits their national conditions."

"Some countries have blindly copied or been forced to import the Western model. Instead of achieving economic development and political stability, they have fallen into social turmoil, economic crises, governance malfunctions, and even endless civil wars. By contrast, the success of China's development has boosted the confidence of developing countries to achieve national prosperity and expanded the path for developing countries to modernize."

Islam is paying close attention to China's ongoing two sessions, which he regards as "not only a major event in China from a political perspective but also a window for the world to observe and understand China.

"I also look forward to China's further high-level opening-up to the outside world, strengthened foreign economic and trade cooperation, development of the digital economy, high-quality joint construction of the BRI, and elevated policy on green and low-carbon emission. I expect China to further promote its concept of a global community with a shared future through practical actions," he concluded.