Life behind Figures in China
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published March 31, 2017

When we left Beijing on March 23 this year no participant of
the NGOs and media representatives from Albania, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia and
Slovakia, who attended a Conference organized by the Chinese Association for
International Understanding (CAIFU) from March 18 to 28, 2017, really knew
anything about the hotel we were going to stay in Nanchang, the capital city of
the Jiangxi Province. As it occurs usually in such groups of people – PRs and
journalists - used to travel a lot, who felt themselves so comfortable at the
Wanshou Hotel in Beijing during the first leg of the tour, it seemed as a
puzzle the ‘blackout’ on the place we were to stay in the city of Nanchang and
other towns part of the following tour. Even we Albanians, part of the 16-
member delegation from Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), namely
Andi Kananaj, Elinda Cepani, Esmeralda Xhelilaj and me were curious to know
which was the place of ‘sleep and work’, if it had Wi-Fi and questions like
that. This ‘failure’ of the Chinese, who were accompanying us during the travel
to Nanchang, where we were received by the local authorities as soon as we
arrived, seemed to us as ‘guess what you will see’. And the guess did not last
long because the hotel was a 15- minute bus drive from the airport. Surprise
and pleasure were the reaction of all the sixteen CEEC guests as the busses
stopped at Shangri-La Hotel, a 32- story hotel which was welcoming us with full
of glittering lights and a grandiose reception hall not to mention the other
comfortable facilities making out stay very comfortable. The first impression
on hotels while visiting the Capital Beijing, and the cities of Nanchang,
Shangrao and Jingdezhen, part of Jiangxi Province, in southern China, is that
the Chinese authorities have paid special attention to tourism and accommodation
reflex of hundreds of thousands of foreigners among whom businessmen, tourists
and students that use to visit that country, the second largest economic power
after the United States as it is officially recognized by evidence provided by
local and international relevant bodies. “Welcome to Nanchang, a small city,”
said Mr. Li Yuqiang, deputy Director - General of Jiangxi Provincial Province
Foreign Affairs Province, who explained that its population was around 5
million following our inquiry. A comment we made after his evidence- a
population in a city around the number of the people living in Albania and
Slovenia together.



Two - children policy applauded



It seemed difficult for all the authorities receiving us,
especially of those in Beijing, to give an exact number of the population in
urban areas as it was incidentally happening “surrounding the cities from the
countryside”, a slogan used at the time of the founder of the People’s Republic
of China, Mao Zedong. But it should be said that everything is in different
circumstances with regards to the current movement of people from rural areas
to urban ones as we learned during visits of countryside. “A lot of young
people leave the countryside for a better life and study,” a senior local
authority of a rural area of Beijing told us during a visit we paid there.
There were regulations over the movement of people to urban areas as far as the
legislative framework is concerned but it was obvious that young people were
not prevented from moving to urban areas for study and work. Of course, as non-
residents they had the relevant deprivations. “We are short of work force
because the youth are moving to urban areas,” a senior local official told me
confessing that even his children had already left residing in Beijing. Free
movement of people in China seemed to be normal but to get the appropriate
papers to become a resident citizen is not an easy thing given the huge
population of a country which has already endorsed the two - children policy.
“The government decision to allow families to have two children is very wise
not only as a matter of the wish of a couple to have more than one child, but
because the population in rural areas is aging,” a senior government official
said, who asked by me accepted that not only neighboring countries but even
Western countries, according to him, saw in that move a decision which will
soon up the Chinese population to 2 billion. “There is plenty of room in our
territory. There are areas which have already become empty, especially in
remote areas,” he said denying any claim that the growth of the Chinese
population could present a risk for any territorial expansion. “We need to
develop south and north equally, and the population in northern areas is scarce
if it is compared with the territory,” he said, admitting that the wave of
movement to urban areas was rising rapidly. “It is the right of people to
move,” we had been told by academicians and professors in Beijing who insisted
that socialism was developed in their country with Chinese characteristics,
meaning socialism adapted to Chinese conditions.



Strict rule of law on private property



As we witnessed a vivid life in Nanchang with concerts
starting live in downtown at 8 pm close to the hotel we were staying, likewise
we saw huge areas of villages with buildings which were empty as the people had
already left. I could not resist the temptation of asking one of the officials
accompanying us why a lot of houses did not have curtains at windows. “They are
empty. Everybody has left, but anyway it is their property and there is no fear
that anyone can ‘occupy’ them,” he told me hastening to say that if there was
any government plan to build any national strategic project all the inhabitants
were compensated in a descent way that could satisfy the real value of the
property. “Rule of law is very strict as far as this matter is concerned as
many projects, including those in the field of ‘bullet trains’, which now
crisscross China, airports and other infrastructure facilities,” he said. Besides
the ‘bullet trains’ service the Jiangxi Province located in the south of the
middle and low reaches of the Yangtze River and surrounded by mountain ranges
on three sides of the east, south and west, had six airports one of which was
an international one. “Jiangxi enjoys an advantageous geographical d location
and a convenient transportation network,” said Mr. Li Yuqiang, deputy Director
– General of Jiangxi Provincial Province Foreign Affairs Province, who was so
kind to accompany us during all the visits in the province. “Jiangxi has a long
history and splendid culture. The whole province is proud of having three
national- level famous historic and cultural cities, namely Nanchang,
Jingdezhen and Ganzhou,” Mr. Li said highlighting the importance that Chinese
Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism had proliferated.



While Beijing had a worrying problem with regards to air
pollution and smog, Jiangxi boasted good ecology. The province took proud in
its 14 national- level scenic areas one of which we visited finding out that
thousands of Chinese and foreigners from other provinces visited it making one
of the most crowded scenic places.



170 different kinds of mineral resources



What was impressive is the fact that Jiangxi Province was
abundant with mineral resources of which there are 170 different kinds. “The
cooper reserves of Jiangxi ranked number one in China,” said Mr. Li a comment
which prompted my comment to him that Albania is also rich in copper resources,
especially in northern Albania. “We are really ready to cooperate with Albanian
partners,” he said as I explained that there was a copper wire plant in
Shkodra, northern Albania, built with the aid of China in 1970s. Of course he
was surprised that such a strategic plant did not function in Albania as China
and international partners, according to him, had the eyes on the copper
productions of the province. Asked by me on a possible cooperation to revive
the Shkodra plant the senior Chinese official said that they were ready to
consider any beneficial mutual offer. In the meantime it was easy to see during
our trip large areas of rice cultivation and as it is already known Wan- ian
County is the place of the origin of the rice cultivation in the world.



“Ode to Joy” in Porcelain Capital of the World



 Jingdezhen is
considered as the “Porcelain Capital of the World” inheriting a longstanding
ceramic culture dating back thousands of years. And it was breathtaking
visiting the Jingdezhen China Ceramic Museum where worldwide ceramic
specialists and entrepreneurs gathered in an annual Conference as well as the
Ancient Kiln Museum. It was impressive that at the end of the tour a concert
was performed by a local youth musical group and part of the repertoire was the
European Union Anthem, the melody used to symbolize the EU which comes from the
Ninth Symphony composed in 1823 by Ludwig Van Beethoven, when he set music to
the “Ode to Joy”, Friedrich von Schiller’s lyrical verse from 1785. The anthem
which symbolizes not only the European Union but also Europe in a wider sense
got a great applause from all the spectators, Chinese and us, the European
group for which it was a surprise and joy, too. It is the right place to
mention the fact that not only during lectures by Chinese academicians and
politicians but also in free talks it was obvious the China wished to develop
its relations with the EU and other European countries, including those of the
Western Balkans. And in this frame I cannot fail to mention the fact that
elderly professors and officials and diplomats recalled the close friendship
between China and Albania and particularly the role played by Albanian
diplomacy for the membership of China to the United Nations. “We should make
untiring efforts to convey to younger generations such facts of friendship,” a
well- known professor told me. It would have been a miss not to mention the
fact that Jiangxi was the cradle of the Chinese revolution As we were said, the
Jinggang Mountain is the cradle of the Chinese revolution, and Nanchang is the
birthplace of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Nanchang August 1 Uprising fired
the first shoot against the Kuomingdang Party, and on the other hand Rujin is
the place where the Chinese Soviet Republic, namely the first red regime of
China, was founded. “Rujin is the starting point of the Long March of the
Central Red Army,” the senior official told us. Tirana- Beijing-Nanchang-
Shangro- Jingdezhen, the same itinerary started by our colleagues from their
respective capitals, namely Warsaw, Zagreb, Bratislava and Ljubljana, has been
not only an exciting trip to know China and its people and history and culture,
but also a special occasion to know better the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative and
‘16 + 1” cooperation mechanism, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in
2013 which has been embraced by the Central and Eastern European Countries,
including Albania. The visit of 16 NGO and media representatives from Central
and Eastern European Countries might be considered as a prelude to the mid- May
High Level Conference which will gather in Beijing state and government leaders
and other officials from all over the world to consider the benefits and mutual
profits from such an initiative which, as it was considered by the Deputy
President of CAIFU, Ai Ping, is a new philosophy, an innovative world economic
project. In a comment on this global initiative acknowledged by the United
Nations a Western Ambassador to Beijing told me on condition of anonymity that
at these time of crisis any project bringing development and innovation and investments
has been welcomed, and according to him, Albania is a country that should not
lose the opportunity to profit from it like its neighbors and in this frame he
mentioned Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and other regional countries. In his
view, pragmatism and national interests should prevail, of course in line with
the strategic obligations of Albania as an EU candidate member country and NATO
ally. “It has been a wise move of Greek politicians to make the Piraeus port as
China’s gateway of their country. And it seems to me that China eyes also
Albania as an important point in the Western Balkans,” he said seeing only
profits of this tiny Balkan country, which is in dire need of foreign
investments at these times of worldwide economic and financial crisis. And it
is meaningful an answer by a Chinese politician to my question with regards to
the May Forum; he said bluntly that the Chinese were efficient and in a hurry
for development and in this frame any concrete portfolio of proposals can be
mutually beneficial from any country, including Albania.



China NGO network for international exchanges



We learned during the discussions on the NGOs that China NGO
Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) was established in October 2005 as a
national non- profit civil society organization with independent legal person
status. It is mainly composed of national NGOs and personages from various
social fields engaging in research and practices in peace and disarmament,
social development, science and education, culture and art, health care,
environmental protection, democracy and human rights, ethnic and religious
affairs etc. As we were said there were 63 member organizations of which 25 are
with consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
and over 160 individual council members. As an NGO network dedicated to
international exchanges and cooperation, CNIE engages with NGOs and personages
both at home and abroad. Since its founding, it has been working actively, on
the one hand, to encourage its members to participate in major NGO events, and,
on the other, stage impressive activities on its own. As a result, CNEI is
regarded highly in the international civil society with extensive rallying
capacity. After being awarded the general consultative status to ECOSOC in
2008, CNIE has played an important role in coordinating the participation of
Chinese NGOs in major events of the United Nations. By making presentations,
submitting reports and hosting side meetings, CNEI has not only become the mouthpiece
of the Chinese civil society in the international community, but also related
extensively to institutions within the UN system and other international
organizations. During the Conference held in Beijing from March 18 to 28, 2017
CNEI pledged that along with the broad civil society in China will always
remain devoted to deepen exchanges and cooperation with national, regional and
international counterparts around the world.



Nanchang, China, March 27, 2017 





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