A group of senior CSD researchers (Alexander Stoyanov, Blagovest Georgiev, Inko Razpopov, and Emil Tsenkov) were invited by the Chinese Association for International Understanding (CAFIU) to tour several Chinese towns and historical sites between 19 November and 2 December 2011. This presented an excellent opportunity to attend several lectures of distinguished Chinese scholars under the Knowing about China title and have a number of meetings with representatives of local China authorities. The Bulgarian group was part of a European delegation, which also included civil society leaders from Poland and Serbia.
One of the topical discussions held with Chinese scholars related to the economic boom factors taking China to the position of the most dynamic economy in the world. ”In a nutshell, it is hard work and successful economic policies”, as Mr. Liu Dongmin from the Institute of World Economics and Politics explained. How the failure of “the Great leap forward” in the 1950s eventually turned into a successful mix of state capitalism and a booming private sector was the main topic of the lecture of Prof. Ding Yifan from the World Institute for Development Studies of the State Council. China’s role in international relations as an arena for contradicting interpretations and opinions was explored in the lecture of Jia Xiudong from the China Institute of International Studies. It focused on China’s foreign policy priorities and its bilateral and multilateral diplomacy with an emphasis on the principles of safeguarding independence and peace worldwide. Another topical issue concerning how the growing socio-economic disparities in China are being addressed by the authorities was subject of the lecture delivered by Ms. Hu Wei from the Chinese Academy of Governance. It centered on the social security system, demographic and family policies and the prospects for future development of the Chinese society.
The European guests also attended a dinner hosted by Mr. Ni Jian, Deputy Secretary-General of CAFIU, where an interesting discussion took place about the relations between China and EU countries. Another meeting and a dinner in the Wanshou room in the same-name hotel was given by Mr. Li Chengren, Vice President of CAFIU. Both sides exchanged views about the current international crisis and modes of cooperation between Chinese institutions and companies and the European countries.
The second leg of the journey brought the European guests to the city of Zhen Zhou, Henan Province. There they were greeted by Mr. Feng Yongchen, President of Henan Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. A former historical capital of China, these days Zhen Zhou has become the center of one of the fastest progressing China provinces. A visit to the famed Shaolin monastery and the Henan Museum introduced the visitors to the richness and originality of the ancient Chinese culture and its contribution to world cultural heritage.
The province of Jiansgsu with its first city Nanjing, another Chinese historical capital, was the next stop of the tour. The province is located in the most developed Eastern part of the country, where industrial mega cities cohabite with historical sites and tourist wonders. A memorable meeting with the leadership of the Foreign Affairs Office of Jiangsu Provincew People’s Governmenttook place at the former British residence, one of the few buildings which had survived World War II. Next on the program was a meeting with the academic faculty at the Nanjing University. It was followed by a discussion at the Amity Foundation as a representative of the booming community of Chinese NGOs.
Finally, the journey took us to a number of historical and industrial sites in the 12-million city area of Suzhou. One of the most memorable meetings there was the one with Mr. Wo, the founder of Xuaxi, which has gained the reputation of the most prosperous village in China and the round of a recently finished 328 meter-high skyscraper.
Throughout the journey, the Bulgarian group was assisted by Ms. Liu Dan and Mr. Zhang Yaowu from CAFIU. Their generous hospitality and competence greatly contributed to the success of the visit.