Arabian Journalists Marvel at Fujian's Economic and Social Development
At the invitation of the press center of the 19th CPC National Congress, a delegation of 11 journalists of major media agencies from Arab countries visited Fujian from October 12 to 15.
During their four-day visit to Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Xiamen, the journalists gained a first hand experience of the latest achievements in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, reform and opening up, science and technology, innovation, and poverty alleviation and how the CPC is dedicated to finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Burgeoning Economy and Improving Livelihood
At the briefing on Fujian’s development on October 13, Mr. Li Lin, Deputy Director-General of Fujian FAO, along with officials from Fujian Provincial Development and Reform Commission, Fujian Provincial Department of Agriculture and Fujian Provincial Department of Commerce, expounded Fujian’s role in the Belt and Road Initiative, its relations with west Asian and north African countries and the province’s efforts and accomplishments on various fronts.
Li noted that Quanzhou has been in close contact with Arab countries since the Song and Yuan Dynasties. As the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk road and the core area of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Fujian Province has enjoyed extensive cooperation with west Asian and north African countries in economy and trade, tourism, infrastructure connectivity, and people-to-people exchanges. The share of Fujian’s trade with the area in its total trade soared from 1% to 12% from 1996 to 2015.
Driven by the B&R initiative, Fujian has made significant strides in its development. In 2016, its GDP reached over RMB 2.85 trillion with a per capita GDP of more than USD 11,000 and over 260,000 people in Fujian were lifted out of poverty thanks to the well-implemented poverty reduction and alleviation measures.
In Xiamen, the journalists visited Guanren Community, an international block hosting 1,326 foreigners from 42 countries and regions. It has a library with Chinese and foreign collections, offers Chinese culture classes to its foreign residents and even employs foreign assistants in its resident’s committee.
“Can I move here? How can I get it done?” Amarani Idrissi, editor-in-chief of Rabat Branch of Le Matin, Morocco, intrigued by the convenience of the community, asked for more details. “I want to be the first Moroccan resident here!” She said, knowing that there is no Moroccan resident in the Guanren Community.
Scientific and Technological Innovation
In Fuzhou, The journalists visited the Digital Fujian Cloud Computing Center and 360 Total Security Co. in Southeast Big Data Industrial Park and were deeply impressed by Fujian’s scientific progress. Saleh Al-Ghsoon from Jordan News Agency (Petra) was no exception. He was eager to know the secret recipe of Fujian and China’s development.
“I’m amazed by all these places. There’s a lot to learn from China. I wish that I could work and live here and I hope more people from Saudi Arabia could also come to China and learn from it”, said Alfardan Yasmeen Radim, associate editor of a news paper in Saudi Arabia and also a first-time traveler to China.
The photo-editing and sharing software Meitu grabbed the journalists’ attention in Xiamen. Stunned by its beautifying effect, they downloaded the app and tested it on their phones. Haidar Fulaih Wadi Al-Rubaiee from Al Sabah of Iraq even inquired about the storage and price of the Meitu phone. Robert Smith, associate editor from Gulf Daily News of Bahrain was astonished in finding out that Meitu is the 7th most downloaded app in the world.
In Quanzhou, the delegation visited ANTA, a famous sportswear company in China. The members were fascinated by ANTA’s apparel for the Chinese national team and many of its products endorsed by sport stars.
Interplay of Ancient and Modern Civilizations
Fujian is the starting point and birthplace of the ancient Silk Road. Quanzhou, Fuzhou and Xiamen have been witnessing the complementarity and integration of different civilizations since ancient times.
A statue of Ibn Battuta, the great Moroccan traveler in the 14th Century stands at the entrance of the Islamic Culture Exhibition Hall in Quanzhou. The traveler arrived at Quanzhou in 1345, and stayed in China for a year. He gave a detailed description of Quanzhou as one of the biggest ports in the world in his book.
Amarani Idrissi from Morocco took a photo with Battuta’s statue. “I know he had been almost everywhere, but I never know he also visited Quanzhou! That makes me feel closer to China!” Amarani exclaimed.
As the only starting point of the Maritime Silk Road certified by the UNESCO, Quanzhou attracted a great many foreign immigrants during the Song and Yuan Dynasties. An array of Islamic tombstones, seeds and other cultural relics brought by the Arabs and Persians together with records of their descendents, bear witness to the daily life of these people.
These exhibits acknowledge the ancient Arabs’ contribution to the diversification of the Chinese culture, said Ronz Nedim, a journalist from La Presse of Tunisia.
At the Ashab Mosque, Saleh Al-Ghsoon from Jordan talked about his ongoing report on the cultural connections between China and the Arab world. “Quanzhou is an impressive city with blended cultures. I must tell more readers about it”, said he, after learning about the profound historical links between China and the Arab world and the cultural exchanges between the two sides for more than 1,000 years in Quanzhou.
In a short span of four days, the journalists gained an overall picture of Fujian province in terms of its economic and social progress, cultural heritage, and people-to people exchanges.