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China's Change through Future Leaders' Eyes

2024-03-04 11:09:00 Source:China Today Author:staff reporter ZHOU LIN
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Together for a Shared Future 

Compiled by Global Young Leaders Dialogue 

Price: RMB 118 

Paperback, 250 pages 

Published by Foreign Languages Press 


Together for a Shared Future is co-authored by 35 young people from 26 countries who participated in the project China Tour of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue (GYLD), an institutional platform for idea-sharing among young people from different countries. 

From 2021 to 2022, nearly 200 young foreigners participated in the GYLD China Tour. They traveled to Guizhou, Guangdong, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Hebei, Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, and Yunnan to experience the vibrancy of both modern cities and picturesque villages in China. They visited museums, enterprises, local government offices, scenic spots, and farms, and talked with local people, workers, experts, and government officials to learn the local culture. 

Divided into five parts with the themes of innovation, harmonization, green, openness, and sharing, the book conveys young people’s thoughts and ideas about China and the changes they saw, with vivid examples of the Chinese achieving their dreams with Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions, which will surely enhance the international community’s understanding of China. 

Part One, “Innovation: The Resilience of China’s Development,” is about their visit to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, also called the Greater Bay Area (GBA), where they saw the strong resilience, potential and vigor of the Chinese economy. 

Thomas Scott-Bell, a financial writer for an international investment firm in the United Kingdom, was one of the young people on the tour. He called the GBA a “colossus of a bay area economy” with an area and GDP that dwarfs nations, and is home to Chinese tech giants like Huawei and Tencent. 

The city of Guangzhou in south China is a business hub where trade reigns supreme. The Canton Tower standing high symbolizes that the sky is the limit to the city’s ambitions. Autonomous car entrepreneurs, smart surgery engineers, and drone company leaders are among the exciting talents in the hive of activity. Shenzhen, another business hub in the southern province Guangdong, tells the mesmerizing story of how a rural fishing village has been transformed into China’s fourth biggest metropolis, winning superlatives in diverse areas. While Guangzhou is a city battling to both modernize and preserve 2,000 years of history, Shenzhen has been built with the future in mind. In this city, driverless metro cabs, facial recognition check-in at airports, and 5G connectivity across the entire city have made it a magnet for budding Chinese and international entrepreneurs looking to establish their businesses in the world’s second largest consumer market. 

Part Two, “Harmonization: A More Balanced Development,” takes readers to Guizhou Province in southwest China. Joshua Dominick, an American who organizes outdoor sports for people with disabilities in China, said his first impression of Guizhou was how lush green the natural environment was, seemingly untainted by the industrial world. This is combined with a diverse patchwork of communities with their unique ethnic identities. 

Even though Guizhou is regarded as a latecomer in China’s race toward modernity, Dominick personally feels that is one of Guizhou’s greatest advantages and has made it a place where tradition and innovation benefit each other. Though Guizhou residents did not reap as much material benefit from China’s rapid economic growth as other provinces did, it also means that Guizhou was spared some of the negative side effects of the early stages of development, such as pollution, random development, and over-development. So now, it can choose a pathway that makes the most of its natural advantages. 

Part Three, “Green: A Sustainable Community of a Shared Future,” is set in Yunnan Province in southwest China. It inspired Miranda Jielin Li, a research fellow at the Shanshui Conservation Center in Peking University, an institution exploring new ways for humans and nature to live together in harmony, to write her article “Towards a Better Future: How Will Clear Waters and Green Mountains Bring Mountains of Gold and Silver?” According to Li, Chinese philosophy has a history of being rooted in nature, as well as the interactions between humans and nature. In Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, they marveled at Erhai Lake, whose clear waters are the result of the local government’s strict control of the algae in the waters caused by pollutants and local regulations about pollution prevention. 

Part Four, “Openness: Global Connectivity at a Higher Level,” transports readers to the stunningly beautiful coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong Province. Shikha Thapa Magar, who works in Qingdao as project manager at SCOLAR Network, a youth initiative that brings young people from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries together, regards the city as an ideal tourist destination with its European architecture, attractive coastal landscape, and local folklore. In 2018, the city hosted the 18th SCO Summit, becoming a carrier of the “Shanghai Spirit” that promotes mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity and joint development through win-win cooperation among SCO countries. The practices under the “Shanghai Spirit” have opened the door for more cooperation and connectivity. 

In Part Five, “Sharing: The Chinese Dream, The World’s Dream,” the travelers share their views on China’s achievements in rural revitalization, poverty alleviation, and the Chinese aspiration for a better life. 

Sam Davies, deputy managing editor of The World of Chinese magazine, writes about the hard work to rejuvenate the countryside in China. In the fields and farmland around Yan’an, Shaanxi Province, an area steeped in the history of the Communist Party of China, agriculture has been improved with digital innovations like e-commerce and livestreaming. Over 98 percent of villages now have 4G coverage and fiber-optic broadband connection, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. More young people choose to return from urban areas to their villages to make a living, injecting vitality to China’s rural development. 

The book concludes with the writers lauding China’s ambition to narrow the urban-rural consumption gap by 2050. If achieved, it will prove that China is truly a country of shared development.  

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