by CHARLES MOI
EARLY this month I was fortunate to be among 18 journalists from PNG and Fiji to tour Guangdong province, in mainland China.
The visit was organised by the Foreign Affairs Office through the Guangdong Provincial government as part of a friendly exchange programme.
The following is the first part of a three part series of the cities, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai – all located in Guangdong province in China.
This is the story of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.
When one thinks of China, the Great Wall, Forbidden City or the Tiananmen Square come into mind. But rarely do we hear about other parts of China. Take Guangdong Province for instance.
Located at the south of mainland china, this province is adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao. It has a land mass of 180,000 square km and has many islands scattering all along its 4,114 km coast line. Over the past four decades since China’s reform and opening up policy Guangdong has achieved remarkable economic social development.
In 2017, its GDP reached ¥8.99 trillion and the import and export volume ¥6.82 trillion. Guangdong is China’s most populous province and home to over 106 million people – that is about 10 times the whole population of PNG. It even seems you’re close to PNG with it the hot humid weather and beaches.
Its capital Guangzhou has a population of over 16 million and covers a land area of 7,434 square km. As a pioneer in China’s democratic revolution, and reform and opening up, Guangzhou has over 2,200 years in history and culture. Also the ancient maritime silk road started here – this is an ancient trade route, linking China with the West, that carried goods and ideas between Rome and China. In 2017 Guangzhou’s GDP reached ¥2.15 trillion.
The eight-member PNG delegation led Post Courier senior reporter Gorethy Kenneth arrived in Guangzhou from Singapore on Aug 19 on a China Southern Airlines CZ6044. Our 10 journalist friends from Fiji were also on the same flight from Singapore.
Kenneth and I had already been to China previously but it was the first time for, Simon Keslep (Post Courier), Florida Gulaseni (Click TV) George Vuki (Click TV), Meriba Tulo (EMTV), Rose Amos, and Jerry Tave (NBC), so there was excitement in the air.
It had taken us 19 hours to make the trip to Guangzhou via Singapore and we were jet legged by the time we arrived at Baiyun airport in Guangzhou.
As the aircraft was taxing to the terminal we noticed the huge terminals and countless number of aircraft. Little did I know that in Baiyun International Airport was China’s third-busiest and world’s 13th busiest airport by passenger traffic, with 65,806,977 passengers handled. As for cargo traffic, the airport was China’s third busiest and the 19th busiest worldwide.
The airport is so big that we even had to board a bus to make our way from the arrival gate to the main terminal for immigration processing – something far from Jacksons International Airport in PNG.
At immigration we used an interactive kiosk machine where we swiped our passport bio page, had our finger prints and pictures taken which was all done in less than two minutes. A first for most of us.
We met our interpreters who were also staff from the Guangdong Foreign Affairs office at the arrival lounge. After a brief introduction we boarded our bus for a two-hour trip to the Canton Landmark tower located in the heart of Guangzhou city.
While travelling to the hotel I noticed that Guangzhou is very much like Port Moresby where I am based. Its hot, humid, with green hills, green trees, and streets bustling with many vehicles.
But one thing that sets Guangzhou far from Port Moresby is the many high rise buildings that are mainly office spaces and residential apartments. And they are still constructing more high rise buildings.
Despite the busy traffic there is less chaos on the roads, and pedestrians adhere to road rules and traffic signs. The streets are so clean you would be even ashamed to litter in public.
I even noticed that the bus stops at Guangzhou are similar to the ones being built in Port Moresby courtesy of the Chinese Government. The only difference was that the bus stops in Port Moresby are riddled with graffiti while the bus stops in China are sparkling clean.
We arrived at the Canton Landmark Hotel which is situated next to the Pearl River. After checking in to our rooms we had lunch and headed for the Canton tower.
It is 604 metres tall and is a multi-purpose observation tower in the Haizhu district of the city of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton), in Guangdong. It is second tallest tower and the fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the world.
Canton Tower was constructed by Guangzhou New Television Tower Group. It is designed by the Dutch architects Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit of Information Based Architecture, together with Arup, the international design, engineering and business consulting firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom.
The tower was completed in 2010. It is an amazing sight and is surely not for the faint hearted. The tower even has a bubble tram at the top, a look out, transparent glass deck, cinema sky club, a post office and a sky drop at 450 meters.
The next day (Aug 20) we visited Guangdong Radio and Television station. Commonly known as GRT, it is a major Chinese radio and television network. The network is owned by the Guangdong provincial government. It is the largest Cantonese radio network and the second-largest Cantonese television network in the world behind Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB).
Here all the journalists were amazed at the level of technology used. For instance they even have a live screen apart from the green rooms that most TV stations use. The host can also control the flow of script from the desk without having to rely on a third party.
Other places visited were the Health and Family Planning Commission of Guangdong province, and Chinese Academy of Tropical Agriculture Sciences Guangzhou Experimental Station. We then had dinner hosted by the Guangdong Foreign Affairs Office at White Swan Hotel.
On Aug 21, after a couple of visits we then proceeded to Shenzhen city, the industrial hub of Guangdong province.