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November 29, 2023

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Experts in China studies impressed by city’s transformation during site visits

Participants of the World Conference on China Studies — Shanghai Forum gained a first-hand experience of the transformations that had taken place in Shanghai while touring select destinations across the city last week.

The destinations included the Pudong Urban Planning and Public Art Center, which houses an exhibition showcasing the 10-year development of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone; and Wuliqiao Subdistrict, a community exemplifying best practice in self-governance based on maximum residential involvement.

Asim Abdul Sattar, dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Maldives National University, was impressed by the FTZ exhibition showcasing China’s achievements in attracting foreign investment, foreign trade, digital trade, shipping and pharmaceuticals, and renewed commitment to reforms and opening-up.

China had seen significant developments since Sattar’s first visit in 2011, which included stops in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. This was Sattar’s first visit to Shanghai, after a seven-hour flight that morning.

“China has opened very much to the world, not just in selling products, like here in this free trade zone museum, where foreign companies can invest and do business in a mutually beneficial way,” Sattar said.

The Maldives is an important tourist destination for many Chinese, and Sattar pointed out that the countries also enjoy good cooperation in infrastructural construction, which includes a landmark bridge and the upgrading of the main airport in the island country.

The Wuliqiao community in Huangpu District was singled out in the tour for its exemplary role in promoting residential self-governance in community affairs.

For instance, residential input found full expression in decisions such as the installation of elevators for older residential buildings so as to facilitate the mobility of elderly residents.

In a special vocational school, visitors had a chance to taste coffee prepared by students with special needs.

“It is a very interesting community effort,” said Armando Jimenez San Vicente, a professor from Francisco de Vitoria University in Spain.

“This is a vibrant neighborhood seeking to transform itself,” Vicente said. “I enjoy the effort at building consensus for decision-making, in the process also taking care of the vulnerable, the children and people with special needs.”

Vicente had been to China many times, with his first China trip in 1983, and in subsequent visits he witnessed “all the progress and changes.”

At the conference last Friday, Vicente delivered a speech on China’s contribution to governance rules of the new world order.

“There are interesting things China is trying to do that I call ‘leading by example,’ like the green revolution and inclusive economic development,” Vicente said.

Vicente expressed the hope that China would continue to think in terms of a correlated world where collaboration is key in addressing global challenges.

The World Conference on China Studies — Shanghai Forum was held on Thursday and Friday under the theme of “Chinese Civilization and China’s Path — A Global Perspective.”


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