See modernization flowers bloom in rural and urban China
Published: Oct 19, 2023 04:26 PM
Photo: Chen Tao/GT

Photo: Chen Tao/GT

From October 9 to 16, a delegation of international non-governmental representatives invited by the China Foundation for Peace and Development visited a series of cities across China, including Yan'an, Shanghai, Anji, Hangzhou, Ningde, Beijing and Zhengding. 

These cities covering the most developed and modernized economic hub and metropolises, and the rural areas that showed China's latest development achievements in poverty alleviation and industrial creations in the fields of new energy and environmental protection.  

Delegates from Pakistan, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Malta, Turkmenistan, Bangladesh and South Africa comprising scholars, a ping pong player, a student, a teacher and a TV anchor. Some of them are based in China, while for others this is their first time visiting China. For many of them, their last time to visit China was nearly 10 years ago and seeing how much China has changed really impressed them. 

From Yan'an to Shanghai

First, the delegates visited Yan'an, a revolutionary holy land of the Communist Party of China (CPC), where they learned a lot about the history of the CPC's revolution and the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), as a part of Global War on Fascism, also known as World War II. 

They also visited Liangjiahe village. In 1969, 15-year-old Xi Jinping arrived in Liangjiahe village under a campaign that saw tens of millions of urban educated youth live and work in the countryside. This small village was where Xi took his first step on a professional journey that would see him rise to the Chinese president. 

The delegates went to the sites where Xi and the villagers used to work and live together. Zoon Ahmed Khan, research fellow at Centre for China and Globalization and a member of the delegation, told the Global Times that by visiting this village, they can gain a better understanding of the personality of the Chinese leader and the political ideas and thoughts that have driven the significant change of China.

After Yan'an, the delegation went to Shanghai, the most international and developed metropolis of China and also the city where the CPC held its first national congress. Delegates were impressed by the development and modernization of Shanghai, as well as the vibrant city life that Shanghai residents enjoy.

They visited a museum of "People's City" in Yangpu district of Shanghai about the latest idea and achievement of urbanization, and also Gubei Civic Center to learn about how grass-root democracy operates in China. 

Yahaya Esmail Nawanda, head of the delegation and regional commissioner of Simiyu Region, Tanzania, said during the interview with the media, "We need to take back home everything we are studying and witnessing, so that we can help our people and our nations."

'Two Mountains'

From Hangzhou, the capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province, to the province's Anji county, the scenes of tall buildings and busy traffic were soon replaced by clear waters and lush bamboo forests under the blue skies. This county boasts 1.01 million mu (more than 67,300 hectares) of bamboo groves. It was in this county that the delegation visited the Yucun and Dazhuyuan villages.

Yucun is the place where President Xi first proposed the "Two Mountains" theory - "Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets like mountains of gold and silver." In 2005, the delegation was in awe of the ecological progress of the village. As a model of China's booming eco-tourism economy, Yucun was named one of the "Best Tourism Villages" by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in 2021.

"During the visit to Anji, I was fascinated by the exceptional history and culture in the villages," said Nawanda. 

"But the most fascinating part is how the people changed the village that used to be a mining area to one of the best places to live, especially after the environment setup," he told the Global Times.

Amangeldiyev Sapargeldi, a PhD student from Turkmenistan majoring in energy and resources engineering at Peking University, told the Global Times that he had a better understanding of Xi's remarks of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets" after this trip.

Seeing Anji's transformation and how lucid waters and lush mountains bring substantial benefits to locals - creating better living conditions while increasing employment, for instance, Sapargeldi expressed his unwavering confidence in China's green development.

"Based on my expertise, I believe China will eventually accomplish its goals of achieving a carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, which will impress people around the world," he added.

The notable improvement of the environment is one of the main achievements of China's modernization in rural areas. Another striking accomplishment is the country's success in poverty alleviation - in 2021, President Xi declared complete victory in eradicating absolute poverty in China, as nearly 100 million impoverished rural residents living under the current poverty line had all been lifted out of poverty.

A journey to enhance bonds

People-to-people connectivity is a vital element and the humanistic foundation of the BRI construction. "Friendship, which derives from close contact between the people, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations," President Xi said, quoting an ancient Chinese saying in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017.

On the seven-day trip, apart from learning more about China's development achievements, the delegation had various opportunities to interact with local Chinese people. In Shanghai, the members had exchanges with the locals in the Gubei Civic Center and learned about the operation of grassroots democracy in China. In Yucun village, they had a dialogue with a young entrepreneur who moved his business there about his experiences as a new resident. In Xiaqi village, they had a closer look at how local fishermen weave fishing nets.

Although fascinated by China's ongoing environmental campaign, Martin Azzopardi, a teacher of the Science/China Corner at St. Margret College Secondary School in Malta, shone a light on his exchanges with the Chinese people, calling it "the most beautiful thing" during this trip.

"It's you the Chinese people who make China. The big heart of the Chinese people should be always highlighted," he said.

"We should build bridges. Though there are always cultural differences in life, it doesn't matter. The garden is beautiful because it has different flowers, and that's why I am so happy to be here," Azzopardi continued.

"On behalf of the delegation, I just want to say every moment here in China is an exciting moment for us," noted Nawanda from Tanzania at the end of this trip. "Every event we learn new things, and among all the things which we have learned here in China, the Chinese people [we see] are so lovely, humble and diligent."

On the boat on the West Lake in Hangzhou, a selfie between Amin and Chinese journalists soon turned into a group video joined by other members of the delegation. After giving a shoutout to each member's country, everyone smiled and shouted, "We love China! We love each other!" Such a message of friendship connected by the BRI echoed on the scenic lake, and it is hoped that it will also spread all over the world and live long.