View from out­side

For­eign­ers share their opin­ions on China’s re­mark­able trans­for­ma­tion

Global Times - - Front Page -

About 800,000 for­eign­ers liv­ing in China have ex­pe­ri­enced both the hard­ships and ben­e­fits of the coun­try’s devel­op­ment. A look at China through their eyes pro­vides in­sights into how the na­tion has been trans­formed and what it can of­fer the world.

An Amer­i­can in Xi­a­men

In 1988, Wil­liam Brown, an MBA pro­fes­sor at Xi­a­men Univer­sity, moved to Xi­a­men, a coastal gar­den city in east China’s Fu­jian Prov­ince, with his wife and two sons.

“I chose Xi­a­men Univer­sity be­cause it was the only univer­sity that al­lowed for­eign­ers to take their fam­i­lies with them to learn Chi­nese at that time,” he said.

The Brown fam­ily flew from Cal­i­for­nia to Hong Kong, where they took a gru­el­ing 18-hour boat ride to reach the coastal city.

Brown said he has wit­nessed China change from be­ing “re­ally back­ward” to mod­er­ately pros­per­ous over 30 years.

In ad­di­tion to teach­ing, he has de­vel­oped English websites and pub­lished more than 10 English books about Xi­a­men.

Brown said he was ex­cited when he once walked into a book­store and saw sev­eral young stu­dents read­ing his books with a dic­tio­nary in their hands.

“The young peo­ple love their city and want to know a for­eigner’s per­spec­tive on it,” he said.

This in­spired him to pub­lish the Chi­nese edi­tion of the book “Dis­cover Gu­langyu.” This small is­land in Xi­a­men en­tered the UNESCO world her­itage list in July this year for its cul­tural his­tory and his­toric build­ings.

“Only when the youth un­der­stand his­tory can they walk into the fu­ture,” he said.

He was ex­cited when the city of Xi­a­men hosted the BRICS sum­mit from Septem­ber 3 to 5.

“The G7 and G20 are the past, while BRICS is the fu­ture,” he said.

He said it is right that China has put for­ward the con­cept of “BRICS Plus” by invit­ing Egypt, Mex­ico, Thai­land, Ta­jik­istan and Guinea for di­a­logue.

A Korean in He­fei

When Korean teacher Cho Sung Hye landed in He­fei, cap­i­tal of east China’s An­hui Prov­ince, in 1996, she had no idea she would be stay­ing for so long. In 2006, she be­came the first per­son from South Korea to get China’s “green card” for per­ma­nent res­i­dence.

“None of my friends back home knew where He­fei was in China, and there was not a sin­gle for­eigner that I could find in the city,” Cho said in flu­ent Chi­nese.

She re­mem­bered that 1996 was just four years af­ter the late Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing made a se­ries of land­mark speeches mark­ing China’s open­ing up and mod­ern­iza­tion.

There were only eight stu­dents in her Korean lan­guage class, which was held in the small­est class­room in He­fei Col­lege. Now the school has four Korean ma­jor classes, en­rolling 500 stu­dents a year.

Over the past 20 years, Cho has seen 3,500 of her stu­dents go to South Korea for fur­ther stud­ies.

She said it is the stu­dents’ thirst for learn­ing that in­spires her.

“Even at that time, I could feel China’s shin­ing vigor and that it was on the way to re­ju­ve­na­tion into a great in­ter­na­tional power,” she said.

In 2016 the 57-year-old wo­man started a cul­tural ex­change busi­ness that re­cruits in­ter­na­tional talent to An­hui.

“China’s wheel of devel­op­ment won’t stop rolling. Too many for­eign peo­ple that I know are ea­ger to study, work and live here,” she said.

A Ja­panese in Beijing

Toshio Fukuda, a Ja­panese nan­otech sci­en­tist, made his first visit to Beijing in 1995, at­tend­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy sum­mit at the in­vi­ta­tion of China’s Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy.

Since then, his ties with China have con­tin­ued, teach­ing as a visit­ing pro­fes­sor in a num­ber of China’s high­tech in­sti­tu­tions. In 2000, he de­cided to base all of his re­search work at Beijing In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (BIT) and has been there ever since.

“As a sci­en­tist, I want the mi­cro-nano field to grow big­ger and deeper, no mat­ter where my re­search is based,” he said.

He said that Chi­nese peo­ple are very hard-work­ing. When he first came to China, the only com­puter in­te­grated man­u­fac­tur­ing was in a lab at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

“The Chi­nese govern­ment did not have a lot of fund­ing, but it funded Ts­inghua’s re­search,” he said.

By 2000, he could see that re­search into robotic tech­nol­ogy was spread­ing to sci­ence in­sti­tutes all over China.

Fukuda said he chose BIT as his base be­cause of the re­search en­vi­ron­ment, and be­cause the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion pro­vided fund­ing for his work.

China is his home now, and many peo­ple tell him that he is al­ready half-Chi­nese. His fa­vorite food is hot-pot, a spicy Sichuan-style food, and his youngest daugh­ter also speaks Chi­nese.

Photo: IC

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