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Young Expats Attracted by Technology Development, Trendy Lifestyles in China

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The Silk Road Research Institute of Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) conducted a survey in early May. The survey's respondents, including students from 20 countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, discussed China's rapid development in technology and innovation during recent years. Many of the students spoke highly of the four things — the high-speed trainAlipayshared bicycles and online shopping — that have become extremely popular, and have brought greater convenience to people's daily lives, throughout China. 


"Young people represent an important force in advancing the development of countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative," said Wu Hao, executive dean of BFSU's Silk Road Research Institute. Students from the university's School of International Journalism and Communication recorded young expats' comments, on the theme of "trendy lifestyles you would like to promote in your home country," during a three-minute video. The video, released in May on the Weibo and WeChat accounts of People's Daily, soon caught the public's attention. The video has been watched 16 million times.

"I'm fascinated by ancient China's 'four great inventions' (papermaking, gunpowder, the compass and printing techniques). China is developing very fast, and it has already developed four new technologies," Peter, a student from Romania, said in the video.

Peter listed the four things he believed had developed very fast in China during recent years. They were: 4G network (facilitating online shopping and services), the high-speed train, online payments and shared bicycles. "These things have completely changed my life," he said.


Chunmei, a reporter with Sino-US.com, recently wrote an article, in which she reviewed the young expats' comments on China's rapidly developing technologies and innovations. 


The author explained in the article how the high-speed train (HSR) had become immensely popular, with an annual ridership of more than 1.44 billion people, in 2016. That made China's HSR network the most heavily used in the world.


Nepalese student Nabina explained, in the video, why she was impressed by the development of the high-speed train. "Nepal has rough and special terrain, which forces its residents to travel across the country mainly by our highways. If we had a high-speed train, it would be faster and more convenient for us to travel," she said.


Nabina also said Alipay, China's leading third-party, online-payment platform, developed by the country's tech giant, Alibaba (owned by Jack Ma), was "really helpful." 


Peter said he was shocked when he hung out with his Chinese schoolmates, for a whole day, because his classmates never used their wallets. "I asked them how they could pay for meals and parking fees, and they answered they didn't need cash because Alipay could be used almost everywhere," Peter recalled.


Vajda, also from Romania, described an interesting experience he once had: "One day, I woke up at midnight. I was hungry, so I decided to go out to buy some snacks. I took only my mobile phone, with which I unlocked a shared bicycle. I rode to a shop and bought some snacks. I also paid by my phone. I returned to my flat, without using any cash and without awakening my flatmates," said Vajda.


The interviewees mentioned other things popular in China that they considered "great," such as the infrastructure, tea culture, WeChat, kung-fu movies and Lao Gan Ma (chili crisp sauce). 


Sophie, from Poland, said she liked shopping on Taobao.com and ordering food on Ele.me. "After I made an order online, the restaurant's boss called me and invited me to give comments about the food and service. If I were in Europe, few people would do this," she said. 


Most of the survey's respondents said, "it is convenient to travel in China." An Indian student, Archana, often leaves her wallet at home because her mobile phone enables her to buy everything she wants. "You can go somewhere nearby on a shared bicycle, or go somewhere far away on a high-speed train, and the price is common," said Archana.


Vajda said that he wanted to promote in his home country both the modern lifestyle in China and the country's fast-developing techniques and innovations.


(Source: Women of China English Monthly July 2017 Issue)

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report HailChina! 2017-9-21 11:24
Remember walky-talkies? They were stupid right? You try to think of something to say and then say over. And after about 5 minutes you think to yourself - this is $%$%ing boring and walkie-talkies suck. But now everyone needs a $%$%ing phone everywhere they go. Ha. God.

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