TO ensure people living in rural or sub-urban areas are not left out of the mainstream developments in China – a country poised to overtake the US as the largest economy and sprinting ahead with its 5G and artificial intelligence development – the government has come up with an innovative way to transform the living standards of its people in the countryside via agriculture industry.
In Jiangsu Province on the east side of China and north of Shanghai, a total of 105 agricultural townships have been selected to venture into different agriculture products to lift the quality of life of the nearby villagers and ensure all sectors of the society can be part of China’s transformation agenda.
The government will provide companies with start-up funds and technology assistance to help each township market its agricultural products nationwide, besides setting standards and preparing platforms for farmers to sell their products.
Houbai Town of Jurong city, Jiangsu Province, is a national 5A scenic area with about 21 administrative villages and a population of 70,000.
The chosen agricultural product is lawn industry where the planting area in town has reached more than 2,000 hectares.
Specifically, lawns from Xi Feng Village, under Houbai Town, have obtained the trademark of China National Geographic Landmark.
In 2017, the town sold nearly 4,000 square metres of lawn and sales reached over 350 million RMB. It has become the largest green lawn planting base in East China.
The lawn from Houbai could be seen at the Beijing Olympic Games, the Shanghai Expo and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
With a tagline of Small Lawn, Big Business, the lawn industry in Houbai Town originated in the last century and was at first planted in Xifeng Village only.
However, since 2000, the planting area has spread to other villages in line with the town’s efforts to intensify its adjustment of agricultural industrial structure and vigorously develop its lawn industry. It has already earmarked 666 hectares of lawn as its core planting area.
Developing an agriculture industry in Houbai Town involves close cooperation between different stakeholders – higher learning institutions, research agency and government – to pool their resources and efforts.
Besides providing crucial job opportunities to the villagers and farmers, the lawn industry can also attract visitors eager to witness the town’s move towards large scale agriculture plantation. The industry has become the new business card of Houbai Town.
Aside from the rural revitalisation strategy, Nanjing Jiangbei New Area on the north of the Yangtze River in Nanjing, covering 788 sq km, is the core development area to boost the global influence of Nanjing.
Approved by the State Council on June 27 2015, the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area was the 13th new area in China and the first national new district in Jiangsu Province. It is expected to become a cluster area for enterprises of different industries, focusing particularly on microchips, genetics and finance industries.
A cornerstone of the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area is the Nanjing International Healthcare Area, set up to draw the best international healthcare experiences and practises, produce standards of internationalisation and develop a four-level healthcare system.
It also aims to promote joint development of medical clinical, medical education and medical research.
Some of the institutions set up in the healthcare area are the Horae Joslin Diabetes International Medical Research Centre, the Cambridge University – Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation, Nanjing University – the King’s College London Joint Research Institute of Medicine, the Nightingale Nursing College, the Thomas Jefferson International School.
To prepare the younger generation for the challenges of the new world, the country’s academic system is also undergoing changes to reflect the impending needs and demands of the society and workforce.
Visit by journalists
A group of journalists visited Zhenjiang Foreign Language School in Nanjing (with over 2,500 students between 12 and 15 years old) to learn about its academic curriculum in today’s China.
The principal Zhao Guoqiang said the school now placed more emphasis on self-development of both the students and teachers whereby more space and platforms are given to them to express their creativity and passion.
“For the past 10 or 20 years, our education system has been more inclined towards following the national system but now, our classes and materials are more diversified, giving students more choices.”
Zhao pointed out that teachers were now tasked with enhancing students’ understanding of the latest global happenings to nurture a well-rounded never-stop-learning culture.
As the world is progressing at a rapid pace, the younger generation of parents are also becoming more demanding of the educational needs of their children, believing the national educational system has to keep up with the latest discoveries and developments in the world.
“Some Chinese parents applaud but some express concern over these new directions of the academic system.
“Every family’s perception of the academic system differs and I believe parents in China place enormous importance on their children’s academic performances,” he said.
While in Nanjing, the capital of various Chinese dynasties and one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, one must visit the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre, documenting the atrocities, committed by the Japanese army during their occupation of Nanjing in 1937 against the civilian population that reportedly resulted in the genocide of 300,000 people.
The Memorial Hall sits on a site where thousands of bodies were buried by the Japanese. It’s divided into four different functional zones – Outdoor Exhibition, Jiangdongmen Site Square, Museum and Peace Park.
The Jiangdongmen Site Square was constructed at the original site where Chinese captives and civilians were buried by Japanese army in 1937.
Over 200,000 items of relics, documents and old photographs related to the massacre are displayed at the Museum.
On Oct 9, 2015, the Memorial Hall was declared by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as a Memory of the World Register, a programme launched in 1992 to preserve humanity’s documentary heritage.
During a courtesy call by a media delegation from Sarawak, Zhenjiang Municipality vice mayor Pan Zao said he was happy to know the former Mayor of Kuching South City Council, Datuk James Chan, had visited the city countless times.
In December 3 2012, the Executive Deputy Mayor of Zhenjiang Municipality, Qin Jingan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the city with Chan and former Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh on the establishment of international friendship relations.
“So far, Zhenjiang has sent dance troupes to Kuching South five times to participate in the International Rainforest Music Festival,” Pan said.
In September last year, a Kuching South City friendship delegation, led by Chan, visited Zhenjiang to participate in the Second International Low Carbon Conference and the Zhenjiang International Friendship City International Conference.
Likewise, the Chinese city had sent delegations to visit Kuching South to promote cooperation in culture, education, economy and trade besides developing cordial relationship between the two cities.
Pan shared that Zhenjiang has been chosen as a national ecological civilisation demonstration zone, a national ecological city and a national low-carbon construction pilot city.
The city has more than 200 hills and 63 rivers, with forest coverage rate standing at 25 per cent and urban green coverage rate at 42.3 per cent.
He also pointed out to the delegation that Zhenjiang is a transportation hub and it only takes one hour from Zhenjiang to Shanghai by high-speed train and four hours to Beijing.
Nearly 5,000 foreign companies from over 80 countries and regions have established their presence in the city with more than 50 belonging to the category of the world’s top 500 companies.
“In Zhenjiang is the first general aviation airport in East China and around Zhenjiang are three international airports, all within one hour’s drive,” he added.
It is also interesting to note Malaysia is the first Southeast Asia country to set up diplomatic ties with China. In 2018 alone, the bilateral trade between China and Malaysia had exceed US$100 billion.
Zhenjiang has invested four projects in Malaysia with a value of US$163.123 million and exports from Zhenjiang to Malaysia has reached US$210 million.
The main exports are silicon wafers, paper and paper products and aluminium foil.
“As the two countries strengthen cooperation under the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, bilateral relations can be further developed on the existing basis,” Pan said.
China Deputy Consul-General in Kuching, Zhang Yang, said China is actually Malaysia’s biggest neighbour since both countries are linked by sea.
As China is undergoing tremendous progress in terms of economic development and breakthroughs in other technology fields, more attention is being paid to the country’s relationships with the world.
“Malaysia is also taking note of the latest developments in China while paying a closer look at bilateral relationships, especially when there is huge Chinese population residing in Malaysia,” he added.
While China is making strides in various fields, potential consequences of such unrestricted development over past decades might arise such as pollution and traffic congestion.
China’s opening up to the rest of the world has helped improve the standards of life of its people, but it does not guarantee the wave of modernization would reach every corner of the country.
“Definitely, in China we’re aware of places not being paid enough attention to achieve growth that commensurates with the China today. There are places lagging behind in terms of development or poverty rates that remain persistently high,” he shared with members of the local media who recently returned from a 14-day trip to China arranged by the Consulate.
Zhang hoped by visiting China, people would better understand the transformation journey and the unique characteristics of the country.
He lamented that certain quarters of the society might not be correctly informed of the country due to biased reporting and poor understanding of the country by western media companies.
“Seeing is believing. I believe the role of journalists to tell stories to the world through their perspectives while at the same time maintaining objectivity. In the case of China, I hope members of the media will be able to let people see the actual situation in China, to know the real China.”
Zhang stressed that the functions of professionally-run media companies were still required to disseminate reliable news to the community, rather than leaving such an important duty to any person sitting in front of a computer who might share news based on emotions and without verifying the authenticity of the facts.
“In today’s world where information is abundant, honest reporting and credible news have become such a rare commodity in that such news tends to be buried in the sea of false or illegitimate news. The role played by traditional media companies is still greatly needed.”