Published: 12:47, April 10, 2024
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Unveiling the charm of Jiangsu
By Gui Qian

International youths explore the many wonders of Jiangsu's culture and innovation, sharing experiences as social media influencers and advocating for global exposure to the province's allure.

International social media influencers posed for a photo at the "Go Jiangsu" launch ceremony held at Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu, on March 29, 2024. (DONG MING / FOR CHINA DAILY)

More than 10 international youths gathered in Jiangsu to explore the province and its culture from March 28 to 30.

The event, "Go Jiangsu — Footsteps in Jiangsu: Foreign Youth's Travelogue", was jointly organized by China Daily and the Press Office of the Jiangsu government.

The participants are students, musicians, engineers, and other young professionals from nine countries — Russia, Germany, the United States, France, Cameroon, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Turkmenistan, and Iran.

Combining traditional calligraphy with modern printing technology to create such a souvenir is truly meaningful. When I return home, I’ll use it as a bookmark in my Chinese study books.

Melina Weber, a German fitness vlogger

All of them are social media influencers who run personal accounts across global platforms including Facebook, TikTok, and WeChat, of which two of them have over a million followers.

"Economic prosperity and ecological beauty will become the new overseas symbols representing Jiangsu. I sincerely hope that the young friends will become storytellers of the beautiful stories of Jiangsu and ambassadors of Chinese culture, actively sharing their experiences and insights on domestic and international social media platforms, letting more people around the world appreciate the charm of new Jiangsu," said Wang Hao, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, at the launch ceremony held at Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu, on March 29.

Located in the developed coastal region of eastern China, at the intersection of the Belt and Road Initiative, Jiangsu is known as the "land of fish and rice".

Meanwhile, Suzhou is a city with a history of over 2,500 years and a major hub for foreign trade and cultural exchanges.

"Marco Polo referred to Suzhou as the 'Venice of the East' in his travel diaries," Zhao Jinsong, deputy chief of Jiangsu's publicity and director of the provincial government's press office, said at the ceremony.

Zhu Jiang, a member of the Party Working Committee of Suzhou Industrial Park, also invited international guests to visit the park, listening to stories of innovation and entrepreneurship from Jiangsu enterprises, experiencing cutting-edge technologies such as intelligent driving, and feeling the modern scientific allure of Suzhou.

During a round table held at the ceremony, six international young guests shared their admiration and expectations for the province.

Shirin Abdullaeva, from Uzbekistan, is a student at Tsinghua University. She said that during her first trip to Jiangsu, she was surprised by many things, among which Kunqu Opera impressed her most.

"I have been learning singing since I was a kid, so I find Kunqu very interesting and pleasant to listen to," she said.

Benjamin Essomba, from Cameroon, also took an interest in local music. During the group's visit to the Wuxi Symphony Orchestra, Essomba — as a music producer proficient in multiple instruments — learned to play the Jiangsu folk song Jasmine Flower with his electronic guitar.

Later, while touring the historic Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, Abdullaeva and Essomba staged an impromptu "Jasmine Flower flash mob", with Abdullaeva singing and Essomba playing the guitar to accompany her. Their performance drew the attention of the crowds, as other foreign youths joined in the singing as well.

French Gen Zer Alexandre Guery was most impressed by the Suzhou-style architecture along the Pingjiang Road.

As a vlogger who has been to Suzhou multiple times, he had previously visited the Suzhou Museum and learned that it was designed by the famous Chinese American architect Ieoh Ming Pei (1917-2019).This reminded him of the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris, also designed by Pei.

The young influencers visited spaces featuring traditional Chinese culture, such as the Caoxieshan Archaeological Site Park and the Yao Jianping Embroidery Art Gallery. They also toured industrial parks and zones where they experienced Jiangsu's modernity.

Abalfazl Delkhasteh, from Iran, noticed the rapid development of Suzhou's economy after learning about the massive import and export volume of Suzhou Industrial Park in 2023. He hopes that Iran can also have industrial parks like those of Suzhou in the future.

Vepayev Babajan, from Turkmenistan, was also amazed that Suzhou Industrial Park could attract so many companies from different countries around the world to invest in the city. It is his wish that Suzhou can establish a sister city agreement with a city in Turkmenistan so that more Turkoman people would come here for exchanges, studies, and cooperation.

The young guests also visited the Yuanhetang High-tech Zone in Suzhou, which was once a production site for imperial kiln bricks in ancient times. It now introduces and incubates a series of independent yet interconnected industrial chains, including film, animation, esports, and live-streaming e-commerce.

In the zone, the young influencers experimented with Chinese calligraphy using interactive screens.

Melina Weber, a German fitness vlogger, chose to replicate one of the works of renowned Chinese painter and calligrapher Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Within five minutes, her handwriting was engraved onto a bamboo board by a laser printer.

"Combining traditional calligraphy with modern printing technology to create such a souvenir is truly meaningful. When I return home, I'll use it as a bookmark in my Chinese study books," Weber said.

As Zhao pointed out, the "Go Jiangsu" program strives to present "a new Jiangsu of strength, prosperity, beauty, and high standards".

"Friends from home and abroad have always actively recommended and showcased the beauty of Jiangsu to people around the world, steadily broadening Jiangsu's international network and enhancing its global reputation," he said.