BEYOND THE GREAT WALL: the China I heard about, the China I have seen

Social

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

 

There was a man who suspected his neighbor of stealing his ax. All of the time this man viewed his neighbor as a thief after his (the man) ax went missing.

Fortunately, the ax was found with another neighbor who had borrowed it; and the borrower apologized.

Though the ax was found, the owner could not have peace in mind due to the suspicion he had found against the innocent. So it came a time that he could no longer hold the guilt in his mind. Therefore, he called everyone in the village to confess and apologize to his neighbor.

This goes to say that you will not understand your friend better until you learn and know who he or she is and so it is with China and other parts of the world including Liberia. Chinese have been hearing many negative things about Africa, and so Africans.

Despite reading about and knowing about the People’s Republic of China, there are several perceptions about the China I had subscribed to until my 10-month media fellowship to the country in 2016.

Therefore, let me confess that, after my deep understanding of the country, I realized that most of the perceptions, especially negative, are found against the world’s second major but fastest growing economy.

Generally, I have understood that Chinese do everything with their characteristics to suit the society following their cultural revolution. And the system is working well, though with continuous reforms. However, today I will give you my experience on the social aspects of Chinese and how I see them.

Are Chinese people friendly?

It depends on how you define the word “friendly”. There are nearly 1.4 billion Chinese, who are ethnically and culturally grounded. So varied and numerous it is difficult to generalize on something as broad and open to interpretation as “friendly”.

Having visited 32 cities and towns in 12 provinces in urban and rural China, I found out that there are certainly a lot of people who are very hospitable-friendly and mannered. I met and made a lot of friends in China.

We were 28 African journalists on the media fellowship hosted by the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) in Beijing, sponsored by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA). We received warm receptions any part of China we visited-some on our own. Many Chinese were anxious to establish friendship with us. Some got more closer to compliment Mandarin “Ni hao,” meaning “hi” in Chinese. Other will go further by teaching you the Mandarin “ni shi na guo ren?” meaning what is your nationality in Chinese.

From the perceptions I had, I was shocked to see many Chinese oozing with goodwill and smiles having seen foreigners.  One of my Chinese friends told me that based on Confucianism, the entire culture is about manners and respect. At some points, I was treated to nice cups of tea, with the introduction of the Chinese tea culture.

I could see the smile on the face of every journalist I meet in China. He or she could not hesitate to express happiness for my being in his or her country.

Three colleagues and I were assigned with the People’s Daily Online English (en.people.com.cn) in Beijing for affiliation as part of the fellowship to experience Chinese media. At People’s Daily, I was working with a team like I was at the In Profile Daily in Monrovia. Contrary to views journalist reports are sometimes ignored, I can state that all of my reports were published. Editor Wu Chengliang could not waste time in publishing articles and stories from me even up to now.

Yes, China now has become one of the most popular destinations in the world because of friendliness. This contributes to the rapid growth and development of China’s tourism industry.

After visiting some tourism and cultural sites in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Haikou and Wuhan, among others, I discovered the booming industry due to the hospitality of the Chinese attracting millions of foreign tourists. May be the cities are commercial, but I really hope you pay a visit to China. China is a country with more than 5,000 years of history so you could not imagine how the oriental civilization will be till you see the scenes yourself.

More interestingly, Chinese are in high gear learning English and other foreign languages so as to reduce the language barriers that have impeded the their understanding with the outside world. Now I have strong friendship with officials and staff at the China-Africa Center (CAPC)in Beijing. These are Chinese graduates and interns who have studied, are studying English, French and other foreign Languages. Their friendliness helps to assist fellows at CAPC for the effectiveness of the fellowship.

I rode on Beijing subway (train) on many occasions, visiting Liberian students, Embassy and other friends. Many Chinese could not waste time in establishing friendship with me in the train. To make the friendship, we exchange WeChat contacts, through which we were, and continue to communicate today. This is how I can boast that going to China anytime will be like going home. Also, I visited some communities in Beijing where I met and established friendship with many Chinese.

In this light, I see Chinese are in line with the opening up policies being implemented by the government. They are also willing to work and stay in any part of the world.

Undoubtedly, we can embrace the China friendship to live its dream to have a developed world through win-win situation for mutual understanding that leads to growth and development, not recolonization as may be perceived. With China as one of our partners, I am of the belief that we are moving forward.

 

China and Africa had misunderstood one another in the third party (media) until leaders on two sides decided to foster a friendship some years ago, leading to the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000. The China-Africa Press Center was established under the people-to-people contacts component to allow for Chinese and African journalists to engage in exchange activities by visiting and experiencing Africa and China.

Fredrick P. W. Gaye is the Editor for News & Editorial Services  at In Profile Daily and a 2016 fellow of the China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) in China . He can be reached at: fgaye.inprofile@gmail.com / +231880650176/+231777083584