By CHARLES MOI
Last week I featured Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, the most populous province in China.
This is part two of my three-part series about the recent visit to China by 18 journalists from PNG and Fiji.
It was our third day (Aug 21) in China and our bodies had already acclimatised to the two-hour time difference. (China is two hours behind PNG time).
We had finished visits to the Guangdong Provincial Fishery Germplasm Conservation Center and the Guangzhou Automobile Group Company Limited. Then we had lunch at the Canton Landmark Hotel which is on level 39 overlooking the Pearl River.
We then checked out of our hotel at 1.20pm with our luggage and boarded our bus for Shenzhen city as per our itinerary. The Chinese people are very time-conscious and some of us were still trying to shrug off the PNG time mentality.
Our journey to Shenzhen which is south east of Guangdong took about three hours through congested traffic, countless number of flyovers and concrete bridges. The trip gave us an opportunity to have a look at the some of the many farms they have.
We arrived in Shenzhen city at about 3.30pm. But it took us another 30 minutes to find the Marco Polo Hotel – our hideout for the next two days.
I was keen on learning about this city because it was a just a market town with 30,000 people about 40 years ago –three years after the birth of PNG. The Chinese regard Shenzhen as a symbol of China’s reform and opening up, modernisation, and globalisation.
This city was founded in 1979 and designated as a special economic zone a year later. But it has a history of about 6,000 years. Shenzhen is a coastal city in South China and is near to Hong Kong. It is 1,997.3 square km in size and has about 11 million residents.
Today Shenzhen is one of the most developed cities in China with its economy ranking fourth in mainland China. Its per capita GDP ranks first on the mainland and its total export volume led the country for 24 straight years.
But despite the many skyscrapers, there is a lot of green space that ensures the city’s air quality and the environment is one of the best in China. This is the result of rational planning; strict control where 45 per cent of the urban space is covered by green zones and about half of the urban land is marked for ecological protection.
This city has won numerous international awards including being ranked second on the Forbes list of China’s best cities for business. No wonder I noticed a lot of Europeans dressed in business attire in Shenzhen.
The city also has many shopping malls, and the usual high rise buildings for apartments and office spaces.
Here we visited the headquarters of Huawei Technologies Company Limited, Shenzhen Vivafounder Company Limited, and Shenzhen Energy Group.
One thing that stands out the most was our visit to the Shenzhen Splendid China Folk Culture village. This is China’s first cultural theme park and is a tourist attraction. The park comprises of Chinese history, culture, various Chinese gardens, folk arts and custom. The park also has daily cultural shows. It’s best to spend the whole day here to fully appreciate the experience.
Special features of the park include models of the Great Wall of China, the imperial palace, and Hong Kong garden.
Our organiser, from the Foreign Affairs Office through the Guangdong provincial government was generous enough to have secured front row seats for the Oriental Apparels show. The show was never short of amazing. It had ballet dancers, acrobatic stunts, dances dangling on ropes, and even a real swan on stage with the dancers.
The performers did all these while dressed in traditional Chinese attire. They no doubt would have to study at some form of ballet or acrobatic school to perform such stunts on stage. When the show was over one hour later we all just sat there amazed at the rich diverse culture these Chinese people have.
As a large united multi-national state, China is composed of 56 ethnic groups. The Han ethnic group is the largest in China. I was lucky to meet some men from the Li ethnic minority who performed for us at another small show within the park.
They have inhabited Hainan Island since ancient time. Hainan is an island province of China and the nation’s southernmost point. Their way of life is similar to our coastal villages in PNG. They depend on fish, use coconut trees for building homes, and make fire using sticks and grass.
This leg of the trip was an eye opener for me as I got to experience firsthand the Chinese culture.
The Chinese have embraced this and turned this into a marketing tool to attract tourists, something PNG is slowly catching up to. With over 800 different languages and over 1,000 tribes here, through better organisation, right government policy, we can also use our diverse culture through a similar theme park like in Shenzhen city, China to promote our PNG culture.
- In my final story next week, I will feature our trip to the world’s longest bridge that links Hong Kong to mainland China.