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Journalists' quest for knowledge of China enhanced by visits

By MAY ZHOU in Brasilia, Brazil | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-15 03:15
Journalist Fabiana Ceyhan at Dandong, Liaoning province. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Journalists often are people with a strong sense of curiosity. Such is the case with Helio Rocha, political analyst at Brasil 247 and social rights and environment reporter at magazine Plurale.

"As China began to make deals with Brazil and help this country's economy become profitable, I became interested in China and its international projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)," Rocha said.

Through China's Public Diplomacy Association, he had the opportunity from April to August this year to spend four and a half months in China to learn about its culture, economy, politics, history and philosophy at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

"I also traveled to many places like Shanghai, Guangdong, Hebei, Gansu and Shaanxi. Now I have knowledge about China more than any other country in the world (except for Brazil)," he said.

Traveling through China and seeing for himself, he found the trip changed many of his preconceptions about China and enabled him to see it through its rich history and philosophy.

"I learned about China's major philosophies, including Taoism, Confucianism and Mencius. They provide basis to study how Western democracy works differently than Chinese democracy. It's a difference in systems of democracy, not a difference of democracy and no democracy. It helps to explain China in many ways," he said.

Rocha said he learned the most about China through visits beyond Beijing — at the sacred site of Taoism Wudang Mountain, and in meetings with Tibetans in a Tibetan autonomous municipality in Gansu. Of all the places, he appreciated his visit to Yan'an the most.

"My purpose was to learn the history and culture of China. I visited Yan'an villages and saw people hang photos of Mao in their homes. People are loyal to his memories and remember the original China," he said.

"The paper I work for is a left-wing paper. It's good to know how China began revolution and socialism in the 20th century. All knowledge about that, Taoism, Tibet, everything helps to explain what China is as a country," he said.

Since returning to Brasilia in August, Rocha has published more than a dozen stories to explain China's many aspects from land rights to education at Brasil 247 and Plurale. He is also entertaining a book project to explain China to younger Brazilians.

"China is a very important country (that) helps solve economic problems of many countries around the world. China is willing to work with many countries not imperialistically but through social cooperation between the people," Rocha said.

Rocha is not the only journalist sharing an understanding of China with the Brazilian public.

Fabiana Ceyhan, editor-in-chief of Brasilia in Focus, a monthly publication about diplomacy and foreign affairs, has been interested in China because "we all know that China has been developing fast and ending the poverty in a unique economic system that is different from the rest of the world. This made me very curious to understand how things worked in China," she said.

Hu Min, press counselor at the Chinese embassy in Brasilia, noticed her interest in China.

"Hu provided me books and material at one event that we participated in at the beginning of Chinese Spring Festival. After that, I started to learn more and more about China."

In August, Ceyhan visited Beijing and a few cities in Liaoning province through a foreign journalist program in China and got to see parts of the country.

"I was really surprised with the infrastructure of the country and how China has developed in the last decades. My impression is that people work hard, and the Chinese society is a part of their success," Ceyhan said.

Like Rocha, she found China's government is trying to do the best for its people. "The Western society may criticize the way that China governs, but they could not create the same development for their people."

Besides China's economic power, Ceyhan appreciates Chinese people's humble manners and politeness as well as the rich variety of Chinese cuisines. She also blogged about her travel experiences in China.

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