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Fijian student really treasures China's realities

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-09 06:12

Photo taken on Dec. 20, 2023 shows Katriena Wong at the construction site of Nausori Plaza in Nausori, Fiji. [Photo/Xinhua]

SUVA — China showed Fijian Katriena Wong that seeing is believing.

"The real China that I saw with my own eyes was so different from what the Western media had been portraying for years," says Wong, who'd previously studied in China.

The Chinese government awarded her a scholarship in 2013. Wong studied the Chinese language at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, Hubei province, for a year, and then went to Shijiazhuang in Hebei province and completed her bachelor's in law at the Hebei University of Economics and Business in 2018.

"China was so vibrant and full of energy," Wong recalls. "What really struck me was the sheer scale of its infrastructure: glitzy skyscrapers, airports, malls, super-efficient transportation and convenient mobile payments."

Most of what she'd heard about China beforehand came from mainstream English-language media, which portrayed China as "rural", she says.

She visited several destinations, including Beijing and Shanghai and the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions. She says she was impressed by the culture, people and landscapes.

"I really have wonderful memories of my visits. I always feel nostalgic about them," Wong says.

She especially appreciated how safe China is, "even at 2 am", and its clean streets and urban parks.

"We (Fijians) can learn a lot more from China," she says.

"We also hope to bring the good things we have learned back to Fiji and implement them in our society to modernize our own country."

Wong now works as a manager at Dingjin Real Estate Development Co and oversees Nausori Plaza, which is one of its largest investments in Fiji. It's the Nausori region's largest mall and will serve three bordering provinces.

She believes the challenging but high-quality education she received in China prepared her for the job market.

China's ambassador to Fiji, Zhou Jian, says around 300 Fijian students like Wong have studied in China through Chinese government scholarship programs since 1996.

Zhou says Fijians are becoming more interested in learning about China. Recently, many of the archipelagic nation's cabinet ministers, members of the parliament, government officials, entrepreneurs, young people and students have traveled to China.

Many of them told the ambassador these trips changed their perceptions.

"If you've never been to China, you should visit," Wong says. "It's the only way you will know what China truly is."

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