Business China Youth Chapter China Learning Journey 2016
Journey to the West (Yichang, Zunyi and Chongqing)
From 11th to 18th December 2016, 13 Business China Youth Chapter (BCYC) members embarked on a 8-day China Learning Journey to Yichang, Zunyi and Chongqing. This is the chapter’s sixth trip to China; participants have the opportunity to explore and experience differing facets of the world’s 2nd largest economy, and specifically on this trip, the Western region of China.
Through this trip, Business China aims to provide an effective platform for youth participants to keep themselves abreast with the development of contemporary China. Through company visits, interactions with local students and Singaporean businesspersons in China, the trip provides invaluable opportunities to build friendships and networks with professionals that serve as the basis for future collaborations. The extensive exposure to the Chinese society and culture; as well as ample opportunities to use the Chinese language during the trip also seeks to motivate participants to upkeep their bilingual capabilities.
This year’s BCYC delegation consisted of members from the National University of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Management, Singapore Management University, Singapore Polytechnic and River Valley High School (Junior College Section). The two junior college students from River Valley were fully sponsored and represented the Distinction Award teams of the 9th China Studies Seminar. Although participants’ backgrounds are diverse, they share the same desire to further their interest, knowledge and engagement with China.
Yichang – Marveling at the Three Gorges Dam project
In Yichang, the delegation visited the world famous Three Gorges Dam – it was memorable seeing the world’s largest dam first-hand after reading and hearing much about it. Later, the delegation took a cruise on the Yangtze River and experience the largest ship elevator in the world. With the completion of this massive 34,000 tonnes ship elevator, traverse time over the 113 m difference in water level is cut down from 3 hours to less than one hour for the smaller ferries, hence goes the local saying: The big ship climbs the stairs (the 5 chamber lock chain); while the small boat takes the elevator” (大船爬楼梯，小船坐电梯). The delegation was delighted of the opportunity to experience the cutting-edge “leveling system” that only started operations in September 2016. Later in the evening, the delegation had the privilege to engage a professor from The Three Gorges University, as well as the former chief engineer of the Gezhouba Dam project. Topics ranged from the social and environmental impact of the dam projects, as well as environmental benefits of this clean energy form. The engineering experience and expertise garnered from this project may also serve as a model for other dam projects around the world.
Zunyi – Visits to Maotai and Hyflux
When approaching the Maotai distillery, the fragrant aroma of the famous brew was ubiquitous. The delegation visited the assembly line of the factory, comprising mostly female workers for their defter hands, which are crucial for the packaging process. Visiting the National Wine Cultural Village enlightened the Singaporean youths on the role of wine and liquor in Chinese history and how liquor, especially Baijiu, became and remained such an integral and renowned part of Chinese meal culture.
The delegation went on to visit the Zunyi Conference Museum. This monument holds important signifance in the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This was where the late Mao Zedong emerged as the de facto leader of the CCP, and whose strategies not only saved the party from a possible extinction by the Kuomintang forces during the Chinese Civil War, but also earned him recognition and leadership from within the ranks of the CCP. Through this visit, the Singapore youths got to understand that the political leadership in China is decided by the tangible contributions and merit of the leader, and not by subjective selection. This visit to Zunyi has demystified the CCP and brought clarity to the understanding of the development of modern China.
A visit to Hyflux’s wastewater treatment plant in Zunyi was a proud moment for the Singaporean delegation. Hyflux was awarded a 30-year concession by the local Zunyi government to process up to 30,000 cubic metres of wastewater every day, benefitting the locals in their water safety and ensuring sustainable living environment. At Hyflux, its sense of adventure and hunger for opportunities beyond Singapore, venturing beyond the coastal region of China and into the less developed western region of China, is deeply inspiring to the Singaporean youths, and perhaps something local Singaporean SMEs could strive to emulate.
Chongqing – Interaction with Singaporean businesspersons; visits to Raffles City Chongqing and ChildFirst
In the evening of the 5th day, the delegation hosted a dinner for Mr. Amos Goh, President of the Singapore-Chongqing Business Club and other Singaporean businesspersons at Le Meridien, a hotel owned by China’s Wanda Group. Interestingly, the General Manager of Le Meridien is a Singaporean, Mr Eric Ang. Fellow Singaporean businesspersons generously shared their experiences and lessons accumulated across the years in the intensely competitive business landscape of China, providing the delegation invaluable advice on working and living in China. The businesspersons also shared their views on contemporary Chinese socio-economic issues, Sino-Singapore relations, as well as for their future endeavours.
Notably, the site of Raffles City Chongqing at Chao Tian Men, a closely-watched collaboration between CapitaLand and the local Chongqing government, is a must-visit destination for all Singaporeans when in Chongqing. Raffles City Chongqing is CapitaLand’s largest single investment in China. Its location carries a deep significance - it is located at the convergence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, symbolising the confluence of wealth and prosperity. The project is also a testament of enduring and developing Singapore-China ties, as well as confidence towards the Singapore brand, and the competitive edge of Singaporean companies.
At ChildFirst, also a Singaporean initiative, the delegation toured the pre-school campus with a special emphasis on holistic education. The campus is well equipped with facilities such as computer labs, a kitchen, library, roof-top garden etc., giving children space and opportunities to develop their respective strength, talents and interests. According to the principal, the school curriculum is closely modeled after Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple-intelligence, emphasizing the holistic development of the children beyond academics. Above all, students have the opportunity to benefit from a bilingual education, with foreign teachers being engaged to provide a natural English-speaking environment. The principal shared that local parents embraced the school’s holistic and bilingualism concepts and are willing to pay for good quality education for their child. This serves as a reminder for Singaporeans to not to take their advantage for granted and should continue to nurture effective bilingual skills and bicultural acumen in future generations.
Finally, to round off the journey, the delegation visited Chongqing Technology and Business University (CTBU), and held an interaction session with the local students on the topic of “E-commerce in China and Singapore”. Through the discussions, the delegation gained deeper insights on existing collaborations in the field of e-commerce between the two countries. BCYC later hosted the CTBU students to lunch and the youths were able to connect quickly through common topics of interests. The interaction between the youths extended well beyond the sharing session with several students of CTBU kindly taking time off to accompany the Singaporean youths around Chongqing later in the day.
From Yichang to Zunyi and finally Chongqing, the delegation discovered many facets of China, getting to know more about the country from cultural, historical and economic perspectives, and interacting with Chinese from all walks of life. It is a trip unlike others they had been to with their own schools or organisations.
About Business China Youth Chapter
Business China Youth Chapter (BCYC) is a voluntary group spearheaded in early 2010 and supported by the Go East Committee. The BCYC is made up of Business China’s active student members who are studying at the pre-tertiary and tertiary levels. With these active members as role models, Business China hopes to inspire more Singaporean youths to aspire towards becoming bilingual and bicultural.