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The charming China -- Memorable student life

By Zamir Ahmed Awan | GSRRA | Updated: 2022-11-22 09:00
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The author: Zamir Ahmed Awan [Photo provided to]

Since my childhood, my father usually told me about China since he served there before liberation, probably in early 1940. It was natural that my curiosity about China with age. I applied for a Chinese Government scholarship before I graduated from high school. I was lucky enough that secured this prestigious scholarship on merit and left for China on 21 September 1980 to start my study life in Beijing Language Institute, nowadays known as Beijing Language and Culture University.

After one year of study, I noticed the beauty of the Chinese language. It is very comprehensive and describes everything very clearly, without any ambiguity. For example, the words Uncle and Aunt are quite common in English, but can not identify whether the persons these persons are younger or older than your parents. But in Chinese, they are very specific words for each relation, without any ambiguity. Although, we faced difficulty in writing characters, but noticed that the grammar, pronunciation, and oral are quite easy, especially oral Chinese, which is quite interesting. My love and passion for China were the motivational force for me to work hard and learn the language quickly.

After completing my language in Beijing for one year, I got admission to a Mechanical Engineering major at Shanghai University. With the kind mentorship of the teachers and my hard work, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in 1981 and my Master’s degree in Mechanical in 1987.

Shanghai is quite different from Beijing, in the lifestyle, climate, and even the local oral language. My strong passion to know China was the motive force behind my hard work and overcoming all challenges.

I adapted effortlessly to the new surroundings quickly and learned a bit of Shanghainese so as to communicate with the local people more conveniently. During these years, I got along quite well with my Chinese classmates.

We together lived, studied, had dinners, played and cheered, and even sometimes quarreled. I was very happy and enjoyed that time so much. While studying in Shanghai, my Chinese got a very big rise. I also learned the Chinese culture, history, traditions, political systems, and governance. I noticed that there were so many similarities between Pakistani and China on culture and values although the two countries had different political systems and religions which strongly impressed me.

It was the early period of reform and opening up in China. I am so lucky to be one of the few foreigners who can compare the China of today and of the 1980s. I have experienced strict quota systems using coupons for grain, oil, or meat. Queuing up to get the basic necessities of life was common practice. I also traveled around Hutong, used public toilets, experienced public transport during rush hours, etc. But I have seen gradual developments, removing the quota system for food, clothing, and other items of daily used items. The first-ever reforms were introduced in the agriculture sector, which has enabled the nation easy access to food and up-lifted almost 500 million people from the poverty line, then followed by other sectors. The Industrial sector reforms have shown rapid developments and China became a “World Manufacturing Factory” that not only met the domestic demand but also exported aboard. Through friendly and attractive policies, China has attracted global industrialists to invest in China in the form of joint ventures. Most of the foreign investors brought not only direct investment but also advanced technology, management, and marketing skills. Chinese people used their wisdom to overcome the lack of investment and advanced technology skills. It was not only the changes in the economy and materialistic abundance but also the thinking.

The real boost to the Chinese economy was after it joined WTO in 2001. China was a real beneficiary of the WTO regime and improved its exports tremendously. Just a couple of decades ago, the Western world interred into China’s business and intended to capture the Chinese market. But, they ended up just after a couple of decades becoming a market for China.

China leapfrogged Germany in 2005 to become the third-largest economy in the world. German took it as normal because they believed that any nation could surpass them with its hard work. But Japan doesn’t think so. As China leapfrogged Japan to become the second-largest economy in 2010, it started to compete with China. At that time the US believed that if the growth rate remained unchanged in the future, China would leapfrog the US to become the largest economy.

The US took it as a serious challenge and as a threat to its global hegemony. This is the real cause of Sino-US rivalry.

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