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Party vows to map out reforms

A Chinese national flag flutters at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square on Tuesday. The hall will host the opening ceremony of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday. Photo: VCG

The Communist Party of China (CPC) will further comprehensively strengthen Party discipline, including its crackdown on corruption, and has vowed to map out reforms to the political system, a spokesman said Tuesday, on the eve of the 19th CPC National Congress.

The 19th CPC Congress plays an important role in China’s future development as the world has its eyes on it, and the CPC will map out new plans for the country, analysts noted.

“The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has made strengthening Party self-discipline as part of the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, promoting Party members’ compliance with the Party spirit and fighting corruption since the 18th CPC Congress,” Tuo Zhen, congress spokesman, told a press conference on Tuesday.

“China’s anti-graft campaign will continue. We will further exercise strict self-governance in every aspect with greater resolve, courage and efforts to achieve results that satisfy the people,” Tuo said.

He said the 19th CPC Congress will also examine a work report of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

“Focusing on discipline for the Party’s advanced nature and purity in a more open society ruled by law guarantees China’s future development,” Cai Zhiqiang, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times.

China has maintained a tough stance on corruption and exercised strict self-governance in every respect in the past five years, which helps enhance Party competence as the core of leadership and wins public support, Cai said, adding that the CPC will focus more on completing a more detailed intra-Party regulation system to further enhance the Party’s integrity.

“The CPC has written 90 intra-Party regulations, conducted 12 rounds of inspections at 277 Party organizations … the CPC has adopted a zero tolerance stance on corrupt members, making sure no one escapes sanctions and that government officials “dare not, cannot and refuse to engage in corruption,” Tuo said.

Tuo Zhen also noted that the CPC plans to strengthen a supervisory system for greater authority and efficiency.

According to a decision made by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, new supervision committees will be piloted in Beijing and in Shanxi and Zhejiang provinces, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The supervision committee will work together with the CCDI under the leadership of the Party committee, which represents the merging of intra-Party supervision and discipline, and national supervision as well as running the Party through regulations and ruling the country by law, Tuo said.

Tuo Zhen (center), spokesman for the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, speaks at a press conference on Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

An even better future

The 19th CPC Party Congress’ other items on the agenda include hearing and examining a report submitted by the 18th CPC Central Committee, deliberating and adopting an amendment to the Party’s Constitution and electing the Party’s 19th Central Committee and its 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

“China has gained valuable experience during the past five years and the CPC has developed new plans for the country, which need to be included in the Party’s Constitution. An amendment to the Party Constitution would help enhance its cohesion and creativity as well as make a more complete and scientific path for the country,” Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

A new central leadership will be elected after the 19th CPC Congress and the changes are closely related to the continuity of big national policies, as China enters a crucial phase of building a moderately prosperous society, Zhi said.

“China’s unique cultural traditions and historical experiences show that we must stick to the socialist path. And the past achievements prove that we are choosing the right path, with China’s success in lifting 13.91 million people out of poverty each year from 2012 to 2016 as an example,” Zhi said.

The 19th CPC Congress will also map out overall reform measures to the country’s political system and other systems, Tuo said, adding that “we will unswervingly move toward the goal of improving and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China’s state governance system and capability,” Tuo said.

Source: Global Times

China sees nuclear advance

China’s nuclear power industry has moved into a new phase over the last five years, with the country strengthening efforts to develop independent technology through innovation while also improving safety standards, experts said on Monday.

The number of nuclear power plants that are in operation in the Chinese mainland has reached 36, ranking fourth globally, and China’s total installed capacity of nuclear power is 56.9 million kilowatts, according to a report by news.cctv.com in August.

Also, 20 nuclear power plants are under construction in the mainland and 10 of them have adopted China-designed third-generation nuclear power technology, the report noted.

In the 2012-17 period, nuclear power projects built in China accounted for more than 90 percent of the world’s new project construction in the nuclear sector, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Technology breakthrough

“China’s nuclear power technology has achieved comprehensive development in the past five years and has risen to the highest global level,” said Han Xiaoping, chief analyst at energy website china5e.com.

Han told the Global Times on Monday that the independent development and research going into the third-generation reactor technology, or Hualong One technology, could represent the future of the global nuclear power industry.

The construction of China’s first pilot nuclear power project using Hualong One technology was completed in May, and Hualong One is already building influence in the global market.

The containment dome for the K2 project of Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant using Hualong One was successfully installed on Friday, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in a post on its website on Monday.

Chinese nuclear power technologies and investment are now sought after by countries and regions across the globe that are considering low-carbon alternatives to coal, experts said.

Apart from Pakistan, China’s nuclear power industry has seen growth in countries like the UK and Argentina, according to Han.

China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) announced In September 2016 that it had signed the final agreements for the Hinkley Point C project in the UK with French energy company EDF and the British government. CGN will fund one-third of the project in return for the chance to build its own design of reactor at another plant in the UK at Bradwell in Essex.

“The cooperation with the UK will boost global recognition of China’s nuclear power technology, which will be widely accepted by other countries and regions,” said Han.

In order to expand its presence in overseas markets, China’s nuclear power industry is expected to further develop its independent technology, and cooperation with countries and regions in the Belt and Road initiative will have great growth potential, said Lin.

The sector is also faced with challenges in going global, as nuclear power projects are capital intensive and the industry is often affected by political issues in some markets, Lin said.

Faster growth

China attached greater importance to industrial safety after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and new laws and rules have been unveiled to guarantee the safety of the country’s nuclear power sector, experts said.

In October 2016, the government announced the drafting of the China nuclear power safety laws, and laws about atomic energy are also being discussed, according to media reports.

After the Fukushima disaster, China reexamined the nuclear power projects that were under construction on the basis of the new safety standards, Han said. “In the next five years, China’s nuclear power sector will put more focus on safety and efficiency.”

The domestic nuclear power sector will see faster growth in the next five years compared with the previous period, Lin forecast, saying that the reduction of overcapacity in the coal power sector and technological progress will be the major driving forces.

Han said that the rapid growth of the nuclear industry will change the power generation model in China as well as help the Chinese market reduce its dependence on coal.

Nuclear power reached a record high of 3.9 percent of China’s total power generation in the first half of this year, the news.cctv.com report said. Experts said the percentage will increase in the future.

Source: Global Times

All 38 delegations arrive in Beijing for CPC congress

Delegates of Hunan Province to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrive in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 16, 2017. The congress will start on Oct. 18 in Beijing.Photo: Xinhua

Delegates of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrive at Capital International Airport in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 16, 2017. The congress will start on Oct. 18 in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua

All 38 delegations to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) had arrived in Beijing by Monday evening for the upcoming political event.

The delegations represent the Chinese mainland’s 31 provincial regions, departments of the CPC Central Committee, central government organs, enterprises controlled by the central government, central financial system, the People’s Liberation Army, the Armed Police, and CPC members of Taiwan origin.

More than 2,200 delegates, chosen from more than 89 million CPC members across the nation, will attend the twice-a-decade congress, scheduled to open Wednesday.

The delegates will deliberate an 18th CPC Central Committee report, a CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection work report and an amendment to the CPC Constitution at the congress.

The congress is also expected to unveil new CPC leadership and set a blueprint for national development for the next five years and beyond.

Poverty campaign targets ethnic minority regions

Government allocates more funds to Western ethnic minority regions

A Yanzi villager threshes corn into animal fodder in Guanghe county of the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Northwest China’s Gansu Province. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

Ethnic minority areas have been a major focus of China’s nationwide poverty alleviation campaign in the past five years.

A lack of education, resources and infrastructure has prevented these largely remote regions from connecting with the outside world. Local people’s needs are also diverse.

One villager told the Global Times he wanted to retain the mud wall of his old house in Northwest China’s Gansu Province.

“I didn’t let them renovate the wall last year, as one day it might be the only memory left of our village,” said the 67-year-old man, who only gave his surname as Huang.

Maba village, where Huang lives, is surrounded by mountains and a few scattered Kangle county towns that form the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, one of the poorest regions in China.

In 2011, about 900,200 people lived below the national poverty line in Linxia, or more than half the population.

That figure plunged to 298,400 at the end of 2016, according to the autonomous prefecture government.

“The battle has been tough, as it has always been in regions where ethnic minorities live,” a Linxia official surnamed Wang told the Global Times. Wang asked not to be fully named.

The ethnic minority group accounts for 59 percent of Linxia’s 2.19 million people, making the region a high priority target for the provincial poverty alleviation campaign.

Many Linxia villages are stuck in the earliest stages of agricultural development and have a tough road ahead reaching the target of a well-off society by 2020, Wang said.

But the bright side is “we began to make changes,” he said.

Villagers living in poverty are learning how to make ends meet while growing their own agricultural businesses.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” he said.

Tough road

All over China, there has been a war on poverty over the last two decades.

Some 12.4 million rural people were lifted out of poverty in 2016, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

But ethnic minority areas often remain entangled in poverty, Xinhua said, citing an ethnic minority poverty alleviation report published in March.

Poor people living in ethnic minority areas increased from 30.4 percent of the total population in 2011 to 32.6 percent in 2016, the report noted.

Ethnic minority regions are considered the key battleground for poverty alleviation efforts.

Maba, for example, has received 11 million yuan ($1.67 million) from central and local governments in the last three years.

“The first thing we did after we received poverty alleviation funding was to build a road,” said Bai Shaoyun, Party chief of Shangwan township, which administers Maba.

Thanks to poverty alleviation funding, the road to the outside world is already finished for the village of Yanzi in neighboring Guanghe county, where residents are 90 percent Hui.

Source: Global Times

PLA makes huge strides

China’s military has been developing rapidly in the past five years and is attracting global attention, which experts said is necessary to protect the country and its people.

“The structure of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) armament has been completed and rationalized in the past five years since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, meeting the requirements of a large country,” Li Jie, a naval military expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The PLA has modernized, and has completed its systematization and informatization, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“The PLA’s armament has made huge strides, for land forces, the navy, air force and rocket force, as well as strategic support forces. Some have even considered the world’s best,” Song added.

China’s second aircraft carrier was transferred from the dry dock to water in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province on April 26. The new carrier, the first domestically-built one, came after the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet Union-made carrier that was commissioned by the PLA Navy in 2012.

The PLA Navy’s new destroyer, Type 055, a 10,000-ton domestically designed and manufactured vessel, was launched at the Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) in East China’s Shanghai on June 28, and is equipped with new anti-air, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, Xinhua reported. The ship marks a milestone in upgrading the nation’s Navy armament system and building a strong and modern navy.

Air force upgrades

The PLA Air Force has also been upgraded in the past five years with the “20” series aircraft. The J-20, a stealth fighter jet independently developed by China, was officially commissioned into military service on September 28. The aircraft is the country’s fourth-generation medium and long-range fighter jet, Xinhua reported.

The J-20 first appeared at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, on November 1, 2016.

Aside from fighter jets, other aircraft like the Y-20 heavy transport aircraft, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and CH-5 surveillance/strike drone were also shown.

The Y-20, a versatile plane with a maximum takeoff weight of about 200 tons, is designed to carry cargo and personnel over long distances in hazardous terrain. It officially entered military service in July 2016, Xinhua said.

On September 2, 2016, then-PLA Air Force Commander Ma Xiaotian said that China is developing a new generation long-range strategic bomber. Chinese military enthusiasts and analysts call it the H-20, which they believe could match the US B-2 stealth bomber.

The Z-20 utility helicopter, which they consider a match for the UH-60 Blackhawk, is also undergoing tests in plateau regions in China, according to anonymous sources from the Aviation Industry Cooperation of China.

Future tasks

In the past five years, two military parades showcased advances made by the PLA, which have been reported and analyzed by Chinese and foreign media, 81.cn reported.

A military parade was held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in September 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, followed by another military parade on July 30 this year to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the PLA at a base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The next stage of the PLA’s development should further strengthen informatization and systematization, and continue to develop attack weapons, Song said.

“In terms of armament, the PLA has entered a balanced and healthy period with great momentum to further develop,” Li said, noting that as China continues to gain greater global influence, the PLA should be prepared to protect China’s overseas interests.

Source: Global Times

Reconstructed Japanese town invokes nostalgia

Wandering in the town of Otaru on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, one is overtaken by a nostalgic charm – being transported back in time to one of those black and white photos. The street views are mesmerizing, one of the reasons why the small town draws 6 million tourists annually.

If you walk out of the old streets, step up along the inclined rampway and enter local communities, you will see the nostalgia in Otaru goes beyond the few old streets along the coast that is more touristy.

The town has retained its original flavor. Many old houses, in spite of having outdated designs, have been renovated, with nameplates at the doorstep showing the history of the architecture.

Otaru is an example of the reconstruction of Japan’s old towns after World War II. The dispute around the Otaru Canal over 40 years ago has attracted nationwide attention.

The canal, built through 1914 to 1923, was a symbol of the town’s past prosperity. Due to efforts by local residents and organizations, the canal and the architecture along it were well preserved.

Tourists from all over the world can see the “revival” of the town which used to be the economic center of Hokkaido. In the eyes of Japanese people, especially local residents, what matters more is the continuation of traditional communities. This is not only about the reconstruction of buildings, but also preservation of indigenous lifestyles.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, more than 3 million people in Otaru participated in activities such as building the canal and renovating the old own. Many plans were proposed by the residents themselves. These people say, the real hometown is where your heart is.

A friend living in Japan for years told me that the country carried out large-scale renovation or upgrading of medium- and small-sized towns after WWII, but it did not scrap them and start all over again. Instead, the government has reconditioned the houses and kept the original community traditions.

Nowadays, some small stores in Japanese towns may look shabby, but feature completely new facilities inside. The way these stores communicate with local residents has been kept alive.

Much of the renovation does not aim to deliberately attract more tourists, but it indeed brings in footfalls. The traditional lifestyle of communities has remained and these stores serve as foundations of social mobility.

The postwar community renovation in Japan mostly relied on civil groups and ordinary residents, especially housewives and those born during the first baby boom from 1947 to 1949. Their mission was passed on to the younger generation.

The Japanese government also set up special departments in charge of outlining plans for postwar community renovation and provided financial support. Many local enterprises contributed.

The decision-making and coordination capability of community organizations was enhanced in the process, and the employees became the backbone of middle classes in postwar Japan.

The maintenance of traditional communities by this generation and their commitment to community development as key players is an important reason for social stability in the country after WWII. Meanwhile, Japanese society tended to become conservative. Stability and conservatism are two sides of a coin. The future trajectory of social thought in Japan, to some extent, relates to the loyalty of the younger generation toward traditional communities.

Source: Global Times

Taiwan leader’s soft words aren’t fooling anyone

Taiwan “president” Tsai Ing-wen delivered her “National Day” address Tuesday. It’s jaw-dropping that Tsai spared no word in glossing over her awful political performance yet kept silent about Taiwan’s problems and challenges. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is undoubtedly the world’s No.1 in vaunting its alleged achievements.

Tsai claimed that there are more than 30,000 “social housing units” under construction or planned across Taiwan. This figure is laughable to the Chinese mainland, which completed 36 million units of affordable housing in the last few years and whose population is 60 times that of Taiwan.

Tsai elaborated at length on Taiwan’s “democracy and freedom” and its place in the new international order. Yet these remarks, by implication, are all about how to deal with the mainland. Tsai attempts to use so-called democracy and freedom as a weapon to push for Taiwan independence and expand Taiwan’s “international living space” to highlight the “fact” of Taiwan being an independent sovereign country and realize the sustainability of the Taiwan independence campaign.

Tsai has put great efforts in her use of words. Taiwan is depicted in her speech as the most democratic, free, united and strongest “country” with greatest achievements in the world.

Tsai’s speech again evaded the 1992 Consensus and made no mention of the “1992 historical fact.” Tsai only reiterated her “consistent position” that “our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure.” Tsai even claimed that the DPP administration has “exerted maximum goodwill.” Is it goodwill that Lai Ching-te publicly supports Taiwan independence upon being appointed as the island’s executive head?

Tsai has been challenging the 1992 Consensus and the political status quo of the One China policy, and pushing forward all types of “implicit” and “cultural” Taiwan independence since assuming office.

There’s no doubt that tensions are rising across the Straits. No matter what words Tsai tosses about, what she depicted in her speech is completely false or merely delusional. The DPP is pushing cross-Straits relations toward a “cold peace,” and Taiwan has overindulged in its self-fabricated world.

Tsai should be ashamed of Taiwan’s “diplomacy.” Panama, its only influential “ally,” recently announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization both shut out Taiwan. How dare Taiwan label itself a “country” without UN acknowledgement?

The West supported separatist forces in non-Western countries in the past, but the declining economy and politics of the West, as well as rising separatism in Europe, are fundamentally affecting Western countries’ attitudes toward separatism. The West firmly opposes Catalan independence and it can be predicted that Taiwan independence forces will receive decreasing support and sympathy from Western countries.

The central government is capable of deciding the boundary of its Taiwan policy, regulating the DPP administration and preventing Tsai from crossing the redline. China’s Anti-Secession Law is taking effect in Taiwan and Taiwan’s reunification is a historic trend. Tsai’s efforts will end in failure.

Source: Global Times

 

US IPR complaints rejected

As US representatives made testimonies on Tuesday alleging “intellectual property theft” by China, experts said China welcomed US companies to settle their complaints via bilateral channels, and said unilateral actions by the US would not help.

US business and trade groups are at odds over how the US should act against what they believe to be intellectual property theft by China, with some pushing for harsh unilateral action and others believing that the US government should work with other nations to encourage China to address the problems, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday.

The current hearing is a new development in relation to the US government’s announcement in August of a Section 301 investigation into China’s alleged illegal transfer of itellectual property, which some in the US claim has cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars in technology and millions of jobs lost to China.

The US China Business Council, a trade group of 200 US companies that do business in China, said that surveys of its members found that just one-third had been asked to transfer technology, according to Reuters.

China has denied the legitimacy of the US probe, saying that it is a practice outside the framework of the WTO.

Flimsy claim

Chinese experts said that the US has been complaining about intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement or technology transfer issues for a long time, but the fact that they have not listed specific cases undermines the credibility of their claim.

“The US couldn’t specify when, where and how their IPR were infringed, so the hearing has become one-sided and we won’t recognize such a vague claim,” said He Weiwen, an executive council member at the China Society for the WTO. “As to the valuation, how did they get such a figure?”

“China has no laws or regulations to force foreign firms to transfer technology, and if IPR theft took place, a US company could file a lawsuit and there will be a Chinese court to take the case and make a ruling. I am sure any violation would be rectified in a lawful manner,” He told the Global Times.

In recent years, China has set up three special intellectual property courts to enhance protection.

John Zhang, secretary-general at the Beijing-based International Technology Transfer Network, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the US claim about firms being asked to transfer technology is a very vague notion.

“I haven’t heard that local governments, which are trying so hard to woo big high-tech US firms to invest in their industrial parks, are bold enough to attach additional clauses concerning transfer of advanced technology,” Zhang said.

“On the other hand, some small US tech firms, which come to China to look for investment, could face the prospect of being asked to transfer their technology. But this is how we do business around the world, and there is nothing wrong with it,” Zhang said.

Robust protection

Zhang said that China’s IPR legal system has become comprehensive.

“IPR cases related to US companies in China can be divided into three categories: Chinese infringement of US IPR, US infringement of Chinese IPR and infringement disputes among US firms doing business in China,” Li Junhui, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

It should be noted that there has been an increasing number of cases of US violation of Chinese IPR in recent years, Li said.

“There are existing channels for the two sides to solve their problems via negotiations. However, it should be noted that these channels have nothing to do with the so-called Section 301 investigation, which China does not recognize,” He Weiwen said, noting that there are over 90 bilateral working groups between the world’s two largest economies.

“If bilateral dialogue cannot work it out, we could go to the WTO. This is the legitimate way of addressing these disputes,” He said.

While experts could not rule out the possibility of sporadic IPR infringement in the country, they said China has greatly improved its IPR protection.

“The US action harms the equal, win-win atmosphere and the practice of settling differences via dialogue,” He said.

Source: Global Times

Craftsmen show skills in East China

A total of 380 traditional craftsmen displayed their entries in a contest held in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu Province, on October 10, 2017. They showed their skills in making purple sand, kites, colored lanterns, clay sculptures, etc. Photos: VCG

A total of 380 traditional craftsmen displayed their entries in a contest held in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu Province, on October 10, 2017. They showed their skills in making purple sand, kites, colored lanterns, clay sculptures, etc. Photos: VCG

Photo: VCG

Source: Globaltimes.cn-VCG

 

China has become one of the most sought-after destinations for African students abroad

Five years ago, when Aml Ali Hassanen, then a college graduate from Egypt, told her parents she wanted to further her studies in China, they vehemently rebuffed her idea.

Her parents could not understand why she would want to study in a country so far away from home and whose life is so different from that of Egypt. “They had this belief that life in China will somehow be difficult. They only agreed to let me come after I insisted,” Hassanen, now a first-year PhD candidate at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), told the Global Times.

Five years later, Hassanen has proven to her family that life in China is good, even for an Egyptian Muslim like her. She is now considering inviting her younger sister, who will soon graduate from college, to follow her steps in China and apply for an MBA degree.

African students like Hassanen number nearly 50,000 in China, up from only 2,757 in 2005. Driven by a passion for Chinese culture, prospects for better job opportunities or simply curiosity about life in the Orient, they traveled to China where they would inevitably encounter a disparate culture of vastly different languages, customs and values.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, China has surpassed the US and UK to become the second-most popular destination for African students studying abroad, after France. From 2005 to 2014, the number of African students in China rose 34 percent annually, according to a report by CUCAS, an online portal for International students applying to Chinese university.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education show that 49,792 African students studied in China in 2015, a 19 percent rise from the year before, making it the fastest growing source continent for international students in China.

At SISU, the number of African students rose from only one (literally) in 2005 to 68 last year. “It’s not too many compared with students from other countries, but we can feel the momentum of growth, and competition for the scholarships among African candidates has also been rising sharply,” Ge Qichao, Deputy Dean of SISU’s College of International Cultural Exchange, told the Global Times.

Medicine, engineering and trade are favorite fields of study among African students in China, according to the CUCAS report. Compared with students from the West, African students have a higher tendency to choose degree programs, rather than only short term exchanges.

Each student has their own personal reasons for coming to China, but one common explanation for the marked increase of African students in China is the Chinese government’s increasing financial support for Africa’s education.

Rise in scholarships

Since the first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was held in Beijing in 2000, China has been granting more scholarships to African students through its 48 Confucius Institutes in 33 African countries. Last year, it established a government scholarship, funding 10,000 students from Belt and Road countries to China each year for five consecutive years, which covers many African nations. African students can also apply for grants at the city level.

“There are many different scholarships to choose from. You can apply for all of them and double your chances,” Hassanen said.

It is now also relatively easier to switch majors in China. “I’m in the Chinese department and a lot of my classmates have applied for MBAs. This would not be possible in, say, Europe,” Hassanen said.

Kiulou Ndeuchi Florence, from Cameroon, said China was not yet a mainstream destination when she first arrived to China three years ago. “Most Cameroon students preferred to study in Europe, especially France, because French and English are official languages in Cameroon,” she said.

“China isn’t a conventional choice because they (African students) think learning Chinese is ‘mafan,'” she added, using the Chinese word for “troublesome.”

Out of nearly 50 candidates who applied for a scholarship at the Confucius Institute in Cameroon the year Florence applied, over 40 were given scholarships. “But I heard it’s becoming more competitive now, because more Cameroonian students think it’s a good opportunity to study in China, as China’s development is faster than that of Cameroon,” she said.

For Florence, that scholarship was one of the biggest incentives for her to study in China. “Without a scholarship, my parents would not have let me come here, because foreign students aren’t allowed to do part-time jobs in China, so my family will have to give me full financial support,” she said.

Florence has a sister who is now studying in Europe. For her, a scholarship wouldn’t matter that much because part-time jobs will help finance her studies.

Entrepreneurial students

But even with a scholarship, the decision to come to China isn’t always an easy one. “Most Moroccan parents would not want their children to go to a country so far away. In any emergency, they wouldn’t know what to do. But if they are studying in France, the parents can just fly over in two hours,” said Zraidi El Houcine, a Moroccan student who is on an exchange program in China through a scholarship from Confucius Institute at University Hassan in Casablanca, Morocco.

Apart from the scholarships, many African students are choosing China for better job prospects as ties between China and Africa deepen. Florence, for example, is confident that her knowledge of Chinese culture and proficiency in Putonghua will land her a high-paying job in a Chinese company back in Cameroon, where China is now the biggest foreign investor with activities in infrastructure, ore extraction and energy.

“China is more developed; more so than France, economically, I would say. If you’re proficient in Chinese, Chinese companies in Africa will definitely give you a job offer,” she said.

She is echoed by El Houcine, who said Chinese-speakers are in high demand in Morocco after the country exempted Chinese nationals from visa requirements since 2016, largely boosting the number of Chinese tourists to the North African country.

Many students are lured by China’s business opportunities. Justine Emanuel Luvanda and Shafii Hamisi Swed, two students from Tanzania who were studying at the Shanghai Finance University, set up an e-commerce platform with their Chinese classmate while studying here.

They used it to export Chinese brand electronic products, such as mobile phones and tablet computers, as well as custom-made clothing and textiles, to the East African country. For Luvanda and Swed, the idea to trade between countries started way back before they came to China.

“We came to China because we knew China had a strong economy, and there were lots of business opportunities that could link China and Africa,” Luvanda told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Other entrepreneurial but less tech-savvy African students bring back Chinese goods, such as tea, wigs and hair extensions or whatever is cheaper here back home in their luggage when they return. “I heard many African students are becoming buying agents who bring back stuff home periodically,” Hassanen said.

Development model

According to a 2016 study by Afrobarometer, a research organization on public attitude in Africa, which polled citizens in 36 African countries, China ranks second as the most popular national development model, after the US. China is also seen as the second-most influential country, after the polled African countries’ former colonial powers.

African students are able to get an up-close look at China’s model of development. For Selycia Curwen, from South Africa, China’s infrastructure is the most striking.

“Chinese people are more motivated to develop infrastructure, improve their lives and get things done. I don’t think many countries have the same amount of motivation. It’s definitely something to work towards,” she said.

This sentiment was echoed by Florence, who is impressed by the speed of construction here. “The construction sites are really impressive. Buildings are completed within months, and the workers seem to work day and night, nonstop,” she said.

But they also agree that some aspects of China’s pattern of growth are hard to replicate in Africa. China’s huge population – a foundation for its rapid development – and their dedicated work culture are just some of its wholly unique characteristics.

El Houcine say he can’t imagine himself working like a Chinese. “What Moroccans do in nine hours, Chinese people do in four. They never seem to take a rest, while Moroccans would go to a cafe after four in the afternoon,” he laughed.

Source: Global Times