Re­build­ing the Silk Road

Young Kaza­khsta­nis see bright fu­ture after study­ing in China

Global Times - - Front Page -

Young peo­ple who have stud­ied in China are be­com­ing an in­flu­en­tial power in Kaza­khstan

Many of them are de­voted to serv­ing as the bridge in China-Kax­akhstan com­mu­ni­ca­tion

China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive and Kaza­khstan’s Bright Road ini­tia­tive have been smoothly work­ing in tan­dem in the past five years

By Xing Xiao­jing

To 23-year-old Sabit Togzhan the fu­ture has been clearly planned. Togzhan is a grad­u­ate stu­dent from Kaza­khstan at Bei­jing-based Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics (UIBE).

In 2012, at the age of 17, Togzhan came to China from her home town Atyrau, a city in north­west­ern Kaza­khstan on the coast of the Cas pian Sea. She be­came a stu­dent of In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics and Trade Man­age­ment at UIBE and en­tered the grad­u­ate course on busi­ness Man­age­ment this Septem­ber

Togzhan has made uo her mind to work in a Chi­nese lo­gis­tics com­pany for two years after gradua tion and open her own com­pany in Kaza­khstan af­ter­ward

As a child, Togzhan had been in­ter­ested in the sto­ries about the an­cient Silk Road. Now she hopes to fa­cil­i­tate trade be­tween China and Kaza­khstan by tak­ing ad­van­tages of

the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive.

“China and Kaza­khstan are both my home coun­tries. There’s China in my des­tiny,” Togzhan told the Global Times.

The vi­sion of the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt was first raised by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in Kaza­khstan’s As­tana in Septem­ber 2013. The idea was later de­vel­oped into the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive.

In the past five years, China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive and Kaza­khstan’s Bright Road ini­tia­tive have been smoothly func­tion­ing to­gether, and led to achieve­ments in many as­pects in­clud­ing eco­nom­ics and cul­ture.

Kaza­khstani young peo­ple who have been study­ing in China have be­come an in­flu­en­tial power.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Kaza­khstan, there are cur­rently 14,000 Kaza­khstan stu­dents in China.

This Global Times re­porter has in­ter­viewed some of them to learn about their sto­ries in China.

Chang­ing fate

Last year, Di­mash Ku­daiber­gen, a 24-year-old singer from Kaza­khstan, gained a huge amount of Chi­nese fans after par­tic­i­pat­ing in a singing show on Hu­nan TV.

The per­son be­hind Di­mash was Yer­tay, who had stud­ied in North­east­ern Univer­sity in Shenyang, North­east China’s Liaon­ing Prov­ince, for three years.

In 2009, Yer­tay, who worked for the state tele­vi­sion chan­nel of Kaza­khstan, oc­ca­sion­ally re­ceived a sug­ges­tion from a friend study­ing in China, en­cour­ag­ing Yer­tay to come and share his cul­ture. Yer­tay took the idea as “a gift from Al­lah,” and went to North­east­ern Univer­sity that year with­out know­ing a Chi­nese sen­tence.

Dur­ing his years in China, Yer­tay al­ways planned to pro­mote the cul­ture of Kaza­khstan in China.

In 2014, Yer­tay watched The Singer on Hun­nan TV and de­cided to pro­mote a singer from his own coun­try on the pop­u­lar show.

After two years of ef­fort, Yer­tay fi­nally got an au­di­tion op­por­tu­nity for Di­mash at Hu­nan TV.

Why Di­mash? Yer­tay told the Global Times that he knew what kind of singer Chi­nese peo­ple would ap­pre­ci­ate. Di­mash might not be the best singer in Kaza­khstan, nor the most pop­u­lar one, but Chi­nese au­di­ences would like him, Yer­tay said.

Yer­tay took Di­mash to Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan Prov­ince, in the au­tumn of 2016, and treated the then 22-year-old singer to his first Chi­nese meal.

Di­mash au­di­tioned four songs for Hu­nan TV and was en­rolled as a par­tic­i­pant in the show. He com­peted with sev­eral other fa­mous singers from China or other coun­tries.

After that, Yer­tay found Di­mash a pro­fes­sional tal­ent agency. He con­tin­ued to fo­cus on pro­mot­ing cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween China and Kaza­khstan.

In the past years, Yer­tay bought the copy­rights of some most pop­u­lar Chi­nese TV pro­grams, such as Dis­guiser and A Bite of China, and trans­lated them into the Kazakh lan­guage to be broad­casted in Kaza­khstan.

He is now writ­ing a book, called The China I See. He hopes more peo­ple in Kaza­khstan could be in­ter­ested in China through his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

Think­ing back on his de­ci­sion to study in China, Yer­tay said that it changed his ideas and life­style, mak­ing him a dif­fer­ent per­son.

He said that peo­ple in Kaza­khstan used to “ac­cept their fate” and not try to change things. “But China gave me con­fi­dence and taught me how to re­al­ize my dreams,” he said.

More con­fi­dent

Study­ing in China has made young peo­ple from Kaza­khstan more con­fi­dent.

Dana, a 25-year-old from Ak­tau in western Kaza­khstan, went back home after she earned a mas­ter’s de­gree from UIBE this July.

She wanted to work in a Chi­nese petrol com­pany back home, so she could travel to China on busi­ness.

She was not wor­ried about get­ting a job at all, be­cause she speaks flu­ent Chi­nese after liv­ing in China for eight years, which is a great ad­van­tage for her.

Like Dana, Yernar, who grad­u­ated from Xi’an In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies Univer­sity in North­west China’s Shaanxi Prov­ince, has many choices for work, Chi­nese con­struc­tion and petrol com­pa­nies have of­fered him po­si­tions.

Yang Lei, the Chi­nese chief of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at the Eurasian Na­tional Univer­sity in Kaza­khstan, told the Global Times that the coun­try has a strong need for peo­ple who know the Chi­nese lan­guage in all fields, in­clud­ing law, for­eign af­fairs, cor­po­ra­tions and re­searchers.

In As­tana, there are alumni of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute wher­ever peo­ple are speak­ing Chi­nese, which makes Yang proud.

Yes­bo­la­tov is a chem­istry stu­dent at Kaza­khstan’s top Nazarbayev Univer­sity, and is study­ing Chi­nese at the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute dur­ing his free time. He told the Global Times that even though the English-teach­ing en­vi­ron­ment is more suit­able for fur­ther stud­ies in Europe and the US, there are still many stu­dents who aim to study and work in China.

Yes­bo­la­tov said that sci­ence does not have a na­tional bound­ary. China is be­com­ing more in­ter­na­tional and di­ver­si­fied, and has many op­por­tu­ni­ties, so he plans to start a busi­ness in China.

Al­though cur­rent China-Kaza­khstan co­op­er­a­tion is mainly re­lated to tra­di­tional in­dus­tries, Yes­bo­la­tov was not wor­ried, be­cause the new op­por­tu­ni­ties will de­velop “sooner or later.” He said that in ad­di­tion to petrol and in­fras­truc­ture con­struc­tion, there would be more co­op­er­a­tion in other as­pects be­tween the two coun­tries.

He said that in China ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble, and in­no­va­tors have a chance to make their ideas re­al­ity.

Deep un­der­stand­ing

Kuanysh Sul­tanovich Sul­tanov, Kaza­khstan’s for­mer am­bas­sador to China, told the Global Times that more and more young peo­ple in Kaza­khstan are in­ter­ested in China and Chi­nese lan­guage. He en­cour­aged them to study in China.

China and Kaza­khstan have been im­por­tant neigh­bors to each other in his­tory, and he ex­pected young peo­ple to pro­mote ties and help de­velop a solid bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.

Zhang Xiyun, China’s for­mer am­bas­sador to Kaza­khstan, had many com­mu­ni­ca­tions with stu­dents from Kaza­khstan. He found that they knew China deeply and could clearly an­a­lyze the so­cial phe­nom­e­non in China.

He said Kaza­khstani young peo­ple were mo­ti­vated to un­der­stand China, rather than merely look for a job.

By truly un­der­stand­ing each other, the peo­ple of the two coun­tries can know the real needs of each other, lead­ing to a solid foun­da­tion of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Kaza­khstan, Zhang said.

Wu Chuke, a pro­fes­sor at the School of Eth­nol­ogy and So­ci­ol­ogy at the Minzu Univer­sity of China, told the Global Times that in the past five years, China built five Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes in Kaza­khstan, and Kaza­khstan opened five lan­guage and cul­tural cen­ters in China. Stu­dents study­ing in China have been very in­flu­en­tial for young peo­ple in Kaza­khstan.

Wu be­lieves the young peo­ple with the ex­pe­ri­ence of study­ing in China have a broader mind and could play a sig­nif­i­cant role in China-Kaza­khstan com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“China and Kaza­khstan are both my home coun­tries. There’s China in my des­tiny.” Sabit Togzhan A grad­u­ate stu­dent from Kaza­khstan at Bei­jing-based Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics

Pho­tos: cour­tesy of Dana and Yer­tay

Dana, a 25-year-old from Kaza­khstan, at the Tem­ple of Heaven in Bei­jing In­set (left): Yer­tay (left) and Di­mash Ku­daiber­gen pose for a photo be­fore Di­mash be­came fa­mous in China. In­set (right): Dana holds a na­tional flag at the cul­ture fes­ti­val of the Univer­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics in 2017.

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