Business China Youth Chapter members visit Harbin, Heilongjiang to strengthen Singapore-China relations
By Alvona Loh Zi Hui and Veronica Low Kai Lin
From 4 to 7 January 2020, Business China Youth Chapter (BCYC) Vice President Veronica Low and Alvona Loh participated in the 36th International Ice and Snow Festival at Harbin, Heilongjiang of Northeast China hosted by Harbin Municipal People’s Government in order to understand the governmental systems and local culture of Harbin, as well as interact with other participants to discuss ways to strengthen Singapore-China relations.
36th International Ice and Snow Festival Opening Ceremony
The BCYC delegates flew from the Lion City of above 30 degree Celcius to an Ice City of negative 30 degree Celsius and were received with great hospitality by the people of Harbin. At the Taiyang Island Xuebohui, the delegates enjoyed the mesmerizing ice sculptures and snow palaces before arriving at the dream-like Bingxue Big World where they witnessed the 36th International Ice and Snow Festival Opening Ceremony, a world-class event which consisted of ice and snow travel, culture, sports and businesses.
A "City of Music" appointed by the United Nations
The BCYC delegates attended the "Pearl on the Crown of Ice and Snow" Symphony Concert held at Harbin Music Hall and performed by Harbin Symphony Orchestra and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra. At the performance, the emcee revealed that Harbin is the only "City of Music" appointed by the United Nations in Asia. Music pieces performed included "Nightingales" with origins in Russia, "I Love You, China" with origins in China, as well as international music such as the main theme of the move "Star Wars". The performance by the two lady sopranos from China and Russia were particularly memorable, and Alvona and Veronica were fascinated by the music performance.
Harbin New District (Free Trade Pilot Zone) Promotion Conference
At the Harbin New District (Free Trade Pilot Zone) Promotion Conference, Alvona and Veronica learnt about the investment guide of Jiangbei Integrated Development Area. For example, the strategic positioning of the "Three districts and one pole" for Harbin New Area: an important supporting district for comprehensive cooperation between China and Russia, a new economic growth pole in northeast China, a demonstration district that promotes transformation of old industrial base and a district that promotes cultural tourism to international tourists. The delegates also observed that Harbin has active collaborations with different regions, with guest speakers from China, Ethiopia, Italy and Singapore. Through attending the event, Alvona and Veronica gained a better understanding of Harbin's direction and blueprint for the future.
Learning about Harbin's history and culture with entrepreneurs
Alongside close to 30 Singaporean entrepreneurs, Veronica Low visited the Saint Sophia Cathedral and Central Street (Zhongyang Dajie) to experience the unique culture of Harbin. Harbin which is also known as the "Moscow of the East” has many features and architecture that is heavily influenced and built by the Russians. The ice sculptures along Central Street were unforgettable, there are also many types of food originating from Russia. Strolling on Central Street, Veronica Low discussed with the entrepreneurs on the culture of China and Harbin and shared their views on Singapore-China relations.
Discussing China-Singapore relations at Heilongjiang Governmental Meeting
Alvona Loh and 9 other Singaporean delegates had a meeting with representatives of the People's Government of Heilongjiang Province with the agenda of strengthening China-Singapore relations. Representatives from Heilongjiang included the Vice Governor and Vice Executive Secretary of Heilongjiang province, whereas Singaporean delegates included the Chairman of Singapore-China Business Association, Mr Wong C. L. and Singapore's Chief Master of City Planning, Mr Liu Thai Ker. When invited to speak, Alvona Loh introduced BCYC's activities and goals and shared her experiences in Harbin. She opined that the culture of ice and snow, musical accolades and Russian influences of Harbin are one-of-a-kind and gives Harbin an edge in terms of tourism industrial opportunities, and looks forward to more cooperation between BCYC and Heilongjiang province in order to boost cultural exchange and business collaborations between Singapore and China.
Besides the above activities, BCYC delegates also participated in the forum at Singapore Day and tried many local dishes of Harbin such as the Northeast frozen persimmons. They have learnt about the developments and experienced the local culture of Harbin, which expanded their horizons and left them with delightful memories.