Guangxi strengthens ties with ASEAN
As one of China’s southern gateways to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is leveraging its geographical advantages to introduce talent from those neighboring countries to promote its development.
Since 2010, about 360 ASEAN experts have registered for foreign-expert certificates and are working in Guangxi, accounting for 12.2 percent of all foreign experts who arrived in the region during that period, said Jiang Minghong, director of Guangxi’s department of human resources and social security.
Jiang said the ASEAN professionals work in three main areas: the teaching and research of ASEAN languages; the service sector, including trade, finance and tourism; and heavy industries, such as mining.
“Guangxi is the only region in China that has borders with ASEAN both on land and sea, so bilateral cooperation in these sectors is frequent here and involves large numbers of scholars and experts from Southeast Asian nations,” he said.
“These experts are making considerable contributions to the development of these sectors as well as to the nurturing of talent in Guangxi,” Jiang said.
Jiang said that Guangxi, with the help of ASEAN experts, has been one of China’s most famous and important training bases for ASEAN languages, where many translators and interpreters at China’s national events with ASEAN come from.
Guangxi University for Nationalities alone has had in recent years at least 90 language teachers from ASEAN, including those from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, working with Chinese students to improve their ASEAN languages skills.
Zhong Haiqing, Party secretary of the university, lauded the teachers’ work. “In fact, they are not only teaching but also compiling teaching materials and textbooks for students, making great contributions to the teaching and research of ASEAN languages, as well as the development of these specialties at our university,” he said.
Waddy Thwin is one of those teachers. After retiring from Myanmar’s University of Foreign Languages in Yangon, she arrived in Guangxi to teach her language in 2008.
Apart from teaching basic Myanmar language skills to students with majors that include trade and tourism, she also compiles a series of Myanmar language textbooks on pronunciation and conversation.
During her six years at the university, hundreds of students have graduated with good Myanmar language abilities under her instruction.
The 55-year-old said she considers herself a Myanmar “envoy” to China.
“I always want to pass on more of my knowledge to the students, from language skills to Myanmar culture, in the hope that these will be useful in their future work and life, and meanwhile be helpful to the relationship between China and Myanmar,” she said.
She was conferred the Golden Silk Ball Award by the Guangxi government in 2013 to honor her “industrious work and great achievement in Guangxi”.
“With the efforts made by ASEAN scholars and teachers, our university is having more conversations and cooperation with ASEAN,” said Zhong, the university’s Party secretary.
To attract more ASEAN scholars and experts to work in Guangxi, the region is taking measures to provide better policies and services to them, including simplifying the procedures for ASEAN experts to work and reside in Guangxi, and setting up a negotiating mechanism that helps resolve problems and conflicts.
“We also frequently invite ASEAN experts to take part in different kinds of events held in Guangxi to help them better adapt to life here,” Jiang, director of Guangxi’s department of human resources and social security, said.