Expats' View

30 years of development in eyes of an Austrian

Updated: 2008-10-23 12:41

VIENNA -- Professor Richard Trappl, a frequent visitor to China, is not only a witness to the later period of China's economic plight, but also to China's rising in the last 30 years since China adopted the reform and opening-up.

Trappl, from the University of Vienna, is to visit China again to attend the First Chinese-European Cultural Dialogue in Beijing.

As one of the first students of Sinology at the University of Vienna, Trappl received a government scholarship to study for one year in the Beijing Language and Culture University during 1974-1975, before teaching at the Sinology Department of the University of Vienna.

Since 1975, Trappl has visited China every year for academic exchanges and other purposes. He traveled to China eight times last year alone, he told Xinhua in a recent interview.

During his studies in China in the 1970s, Trappl, an admirer of Chinese culture, was too eager to try to integrate himself into a society he was so curious about and to know more of the country with a splendid ancient civilization.

But he sometimes fell into a sense of frustration when he found that there were some restrictions on foreigners at that time and that it was difficult to talk freely to ordinary Chinese due to language problems and cultural differences.

"Even my roommate and I could not speak our minds freely," he said.

Trappl recalled he shared a dormitory room with a Chinese engineer, who was going to be sent to Germany for further studies. "He was obviously less communicative and we never even dined out together."

The situation is totally different from then, he said. Now hundreds of thousands of foreigners are studying, living and working in China and there are no much restrictions on their movements, he said.

Many foreigners, including himself, are enjoying their lives in China and have forged personal friendships with government officials, scholars and ordinary Chinese citizens, Trappl said.

The changes impressed him most after China's 30 years of reform and opening-up was what has happened in Chinese people's mental outlook, he said. "The Chinese people are becoming increasingly self-confident and open."

Trappl said work at the Sinology Department of the University of Vienna has been thriving over the past 30 years, which represents a vivid example of how great a role the years of reform and opening-up have played in raising China's international standing and influence.

According to Trappl, there were only 50 students when the Sinology Department was founded in 1973. But the total number of registered students has now reached 700, most of them Austrians, and more and more young people in Austria want to know more about China.

No one in the world can afford to turn a blind eye to China's rapid growth over the past 30 years, he said. China's influence is growing and the international community needs China's involvement in tackling such issues as climate change, energy security, terrorism and environmental protection, etc.

China's economic growth is even more remarkable and there are huge business opportunities there, he said.

The exchange and opening up has not only enabled China to know more about the outside world, but also enhanced the world's understanding about and trust in China, he said.

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