China's dream is coming true
It was an honor to live in China for 10 months last year, I was a participant in the China-Africa Press Center program organized by the China Public Diplomacy Association. That program is a follow-up to the call by the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to promote exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and African media. We were 27 journalists from 27 countries in the African continent, and were given a great opportunity to understand China.
During this period, I visited 10 provinces and municipalities around China and had meetings with the governments in these provinces. I considered myself lucky to experience this, maybe even luckier than the Chinese themselves.
I admit, before I visited China I had wrong information and thoughts about it. I was always asking myself and wondering how this country lives with a huge population and how it has become the second-largest economy in the world.
All I could think about were the Chinese products which covered all countries around the world, and day by day it became obvious to me. When you see that face-to-face and touch it, see with your own eyes, it is completely different than reading about it. I call it "the live experiment".
I still remember the moments when I left the gate of Beijing Capital International airport in February 2017, starting my journey inside China. My first impression was a mix of enthusiasm, curiosity and passion, I felt that I wanted to delve deep into this society and learn how this country came to be.
I needed to know more — what is the secret behind China's becoming the second-largest economy in the world?
The first scene which attracted my attention my first day in China was the shared bikes — hundreds, thousands of bicycles standing safely on all streets, and able to be rented without asking an owner — just by using my mobile phone in a simple procedure.
I like to interact with the Chinese people, because this helps deepen my knowledge of these people and their culture. Before coming here, I knew they loved life, their homeland and their sense of belonging. They respect and appreciate each other, as they respect foreigners who live among them.
Every province and city I have visited in China occupies a special place in my heart. I was impressed with the civilization and history of Nanjing, the desert and the authenticity of Inner Mongolia people, the spicy food and Panda bears of Sichuan province, construction and development in the Tibet autonomous region, the spirit of friendly people in Ningxia and the charm and beauty of Xiamen.
More importantly, what made me better understand China and its dream was getting the chance to cover major domestic and international events in 2017, such as the two sessions, the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress and the fifth session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, in addition to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last May, the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen and the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Undoubtedly these events put me on the right path to knowing China's thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams, not only for China itself but also to developing countries and the world. I discovered the only countries demanding peace are the developing countries, among them China. They look for an easier way for the world to live in peace, not just making allegations or assumptions as other countries do .
First of all, the Belt and Road Initiative is conclusive evidence of China's call for peace, which aims for global cooperation in different fields and developing mutual exchange, and it is already seeing positive results in several areas, I can affirm that because my country, Egypt, was one of the first countries involved in this initiative from the beginning. As President Xi Jinping said during his visit to Egypt, China is considering its relationship with Egypt from a long-term perspective. "We are ready to work with the Egyptian side to carry forward our traditional friendship, learn from each other and deepen our practical cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to let our people share development benefits and enjoy a better life." No one can deny that Egypt is a crucial element in the implementation of this initiative.
On the local level, there are many domestic projects, all dealing with what Xi said in his New Year speech: "improvement of people's living situation including education, employment, insurance and poverty reduction." This is not only a goal for this year, but also for coming years.
One of these projects, which I am very interested in and has impressed and inspired me, is the poverty reduction campaign — a plan to eradicate poverty by 2020.
To people from other developing countries, this is a miracle. When we look at this, we wonder how China is already so close to victory in this regard. "After three years, we will win the final phase of the war on poverty. This will be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty has been eliminated." President Xi said this not only in his New Year speech but also in his speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last October, an event I was honored to attend along with 3,000 other journalists.
In my opinion, after these three years when China will succeed in its poverty reduction campaign, it will give a lesson to the world and prove as a developing country seeking progress is not just talking or showing a desire, but planning, common work and cooperation under one flag.
Hossam Abd-Elalem is a journalist at Al-Akhbar newspaper in Egypt.