Shanghai honors 50 expats with prestigious Magnolia Silver Award for 2023
Published: Dec 04, 2023 12:47 AM
Photo: Huang Lanlan/GT

Photo: Huang Lanlan/GT

Fifty foreign nationals in Shanghai were honored with this year's Magnolia Silver Award, an award specifically honoring expatriates in Shanghai for their contributions to the city. 

This year, the award winners are from 15 countries and are engaged in various fields including economy and trade, finance, science and technology, shipping, education, medical care, and culture, as introduced by Kong Fu'an, director-general of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, on Sunday. 

With their talent, passion, and dedication, they have contributed to the openness, vitality, prosperity, and progress of Shanghai, making the city a better place, Kong said in a speech he delivered at the award's presentation ceremony in downtown Shanghai on Sunday.

Each of the award winners has moving stories that contain expatriates' sense of belonging, integration, and love for the city of Shanghai, he added. 

In his speech, Kong cited four of the winners' connections with and contributions to Shanghai. They included Alexander Rhys Gregg-Smith, the Senior Vice President of Bureau Veritas (BV) Group and the Chief Executive of BV Marine & Offshore North Asia and China.

The Port of Shanghai, the world's busiest container port, has been at the forefront of the development of the whole of China and driving global trade, Gregg-Smith said in a speech he delivered at the ceremony on behalf of all the award recipients. "The rapid development of Shanghai provides us with a vast stage," he said. 

Speaking of himself, Gregg-Smith mentioned that he has lived and worked in many countries and cities around the world, but his love for Shanghai is deeply embedded in his heart. "It is not just a place for work; it is my spiritual home." 

For him, the award is more than a mere medal or title, "it is a symbol of the enthusiastic support and warm welcome consistently felt in this truly international megacity," Gregg-Smith added. 

Ahead of the ceremony on Sunday, Gregg-Smith shared with the Global Times his excitement about winning the award. "It's a great pride and honor to me. It's fantastic to be recognized," he said. 

Gregg-Smith mentioned that he and his colleagues now have many dealings with the Shanghai government, working on assisting the shipbuilding and international shipping in this city. 

Gregg-Smith was one of the many expats who witnessed the rapid development of Shanghai over the decades. "My first time in China was in 1998, and between 1998 and 2023, the GDP of Shanghai has increased some 10 times," he told the Global Times. "So at least for me, it is the number one city. I'm really happy to be here and [to witness] these years' exciting developments." 

Astrid Poghosyan, who works at the development department of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, is one of the youngest winners of the award this year. 

The award not only shows Shanghai's appreciation to those who make significant contributions to the city's development but also embodies its recognition and encouragement for the international young people who make efforts in pursuing their dreams in China, Poghosyan said to the Global Times on Sunday. 

Coming to Shanghai at the age of 16, Poghosyan, now 30, said that over the years she has well integrated herself into this city, from professional work to daily life, as well as community voluntary services. 

"I've been here for 14 years," she told the Global Times in fluent Putonghua. "I grew up here, and most of my friends are Chinese. I'm an expat from appearance, but I have a very 'Chinese heart.'" 

Shanghai began honoring expatriates in 1989 with the Magnolia Silver Award and added the gold award and honorary citizenship to the system in 1992 and 1997, respectively, according to the official website of the municipal government. These awards have honored more than 1,827 foreigners in the past 34 years.