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China Daily

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Published: 11:52, May 31, 2023 | Updated: 16:54, May 31, 2023
More commonalities than differences
By Gui Qian
Published:11:52, May 31, 2023 Updated:16:54, May 31, 2023 By Gui Qian

World's youth build bridges of communication as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. 

Young speakers from China, Iran, Russia and Belarus shared their stories and perspectives at Youth Voices from the Belt and Road forum 2023, held on May 21 at Tsinghua University in Beijing. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The participation of young people has become a vital force for Belt and Road cooperation, Wang Hao, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, said in his opening remarks at Youth Voices from the Belt and Road forum 2023, held on May 21 at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Co-sponsored by China Daily and Tsinghua, the forum followed the China-Central Asia Summit, held from May 18 to May 19 in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, which sought to deepen friendships between China and countries along the Belt and Road and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, according to Wang.

This year marks the 10th anniversary since Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. The Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China noted, "the Belt and Road Initiative has been welcomed by the international community as a platform for cooperation as well as public goods". To give full play to the exemplary role of young people involved in Belt and Road cooperation, Wang urges three points: the importance of quality education, that genuine knowledge comes from practice, and communication platforms are key.

Martha A. Mavrommatis, Cyprus' ambassador to China, also stressed the strength of youth in her speech at the forum, calling young people "the future of both countries and of the world". She also used the Chinese proverb "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step "to compare the positive changes that the Belt and Road Initiative has brought.

"We are all eager to hear how this great initiative has transformed for the better the lives of young people like yourselves, not only in China but also worldwide," said ambassador Mavrommatis.

At the forum, six young guest speakers from China, Iran, Russia and Belarus shared their stories and perspectives. They talked about visiting and living in different countries, the role of youth in international communication, and the responsibilities that their generation is shouldering in Belt and Road cooperation.

Yulia Temelidi from Russia, a student ambassador for global communication at Tsinghua University, shared her experience of participating in China Daily's video program Youth Power, where young people from across the world discuss global issues, including education and economy. She found that their discussion sparked the interest of viewers and promoted a common understanding of some key global topics.

"When I read the viewers' comments, I came to realize the meaning of holding such youth activities," said Temelidi. "We young people are the power of the future. We accumulate knowledge through communication and prepare to create a better world."

Ekaterina Kaligaeva is the champion of the Belarus Division of Chinese Bridge (a Chinese proficiency competition for foreign students), a Journalism and Communication graduate of Tsinghua University, and now a vlogger. With rich experience in cross-cultural communication, she shared methods for promoting Chinese culture to the world.

"To better introduce China to friends from other parts of the world, storytelling from the first person point of view matters," she said. "The public prefer personal experiences and observations rather than official, long and complicated content."

She took the work of vloggers as an example, saying that if they were going to make a video to introduce Shandong province, they'd better talk about the food and daily life there, like the Zibo barbecue, which has been trending on Chinese social media. "Although we young people are not diplomats or spokespeople from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we can still bring the people of two countries closer in our own ways and help them realize that we have more commonalities than differences," she said.

Tao Tianye, a Chinese student at Tsinghua University who led a research team to Saudi Arabia, shared her stories of making friends with local people and her thoughts on international communication. Tao remembered she used to worry about the language barrier between her and the Saudi Arabians she met, as they didn't speak each other's language, and neither she nor they were fluent in English. But when a local person said to her, "Let's play ping-pong", all her worries and hesitations disappeared, and they became instant friends.

"Everything can be your 'language': sports, music… A Saudi Arabian once told me, 'you guys need to promote your country and talk about your country'. Yes, language is important, but not as important as the will to communicate cross-culturally," Tao said.

The young speakers' speeches echoed the words of Xiang Botao, deputy secretary of the CPC Tsinghua University Committee. Xiang said during the forum's opening remarks: "Youth across the world share common aspirations and commitments, which contributes to the progress and development of mankind."

"I hope our young friends from countries along the Belt and Road can give full play to their passion, sincerity, wisdom and strength," said Xiang.


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