By Wang Fengjuan
The All-China Youth Federation (ACYF) has long been engaged in regional youth exchanges. Wan Xuejun, assistant chairman of ACYF, sat down with China Report ASEAN for an interview about the characteristics and meanings of the communication between young people from China and ASEAN countries.
China Report ASEAN: The Chinese public, young people in particular, are increasingly interacting with the outside world. What kind of activities does ACYF organize for exchanges among young people from China and ASEAN?
Wan Xuejun: Over the years, ACYF has held various activities to promote the exchanges among the youth, some of which have become signature projects.
Firstly, within China-ASEAN multilateral frameworks, we hold the 10+1 meeting. In September 2004, we held the First China-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Youth. Since then, the meeting has been held biennially, and the next one will take place in Indonesia in 2017.
Secondly, we have maintained regular exchange visits with all 10 ASEAN countries. Some visiting groups even have more than 100 people. We have successively held nine China-ASEAN Youth Camps, drawing 900 young people from a variety of different backgrounds from ASEAN countries to China. Within the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework, we have held Lancang-Mekong Rivers Youth Exchanges 11 times, attracting 700 young people from the six countries in the region.
Thirdly, we have organized training programs for young people from ASEAN countries. Since 2000, the China Guangxi International Youth Exchange Institute has provided training for young leaders on China’s politics, economy and culture. The trainees have been organized to visit China’s enterprises, schools, villages and communities, gaining well-rounded and objective knowledge about China’s development. At present, we have held 44 training programs, benefiting 1,900 young leaders from ASEAN countries.
Fourthly, we send Chinese young volunteers to ASEAN countries. Young Chinese volunteers have helped in fields including Chinese language teaching, agricultural technology, healthcare, internet maintenance and coaching sports. Additionally, special groups of volunteers have participated in disaster relief operations, like a maritime search and rescue task force dispatched to Thailand after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
We have set up the China-ASEAN Youth Association and the China-ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Association. We plan to build a China-ASEAN Youth Communication Center in Nanning City in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
China Report ASEAN: Relations between China and ASEAN countries are undergoing great changes. What do you think are the main characteristics of China-ASEAN youth exchange?
Wan Xuejun: China and ASEAN countries are connected by mountains and rivers, therefore we have built strong bond. We are good neighbors, friends and partners. The exchanges among young people are characterized by early development, large scale and deep influence.
Since 2000, China and ASEAN countries have held regular activities for youth exchanges, earlier than those with other nations. China-ASEAN events attract large numbers of participants. For example, the first and second ChinaVietnam Youth Get-togethers held in 2010 and 2013, respectively, attracted 3,000 young people from Vietnam. In early November this year, Vietnam invited 1,000 young people from China to visit the country, marking the third edition of China-Vietnam Youth Gettogethers. It also set a record in the number of Chinese young people visiting a foreign country on a single trip. Over the years, China-ASEAN youth exchange has featured high-level events which have gradually become signature projects. Related state leaders greatly support those events and young people from related nations actively joined them.
China Report ASEAN: How will ACYF further promote international youth communication?
Wan Xuejun: ACYF will set up more platforms to promote cooperation and innovation as well as help young people launch their own businesses and realize their dreams. We hope our efforts can be supported by more young people and attract greater participation.
We will continue to promote faceto-face exchanges between young leaders, scholars, reporters and exchange students of China and ASEAN countries to strengthen mutual understanding and build consensus. We hope the participants will bring more young people to join cooperation in various fields within the 10+1 framework and play an active role in developing the Belt and Road Initiative.
Young people are pioneers and vital forces of cultural exchange. Young people are the cornerstone for the future of state-to-state relations.
Considering the evolving demands of young people, we will adjust our forms, channels and content of exchange. We will build both online and offline platforms to strengthen the cooperation of young people.
We will promote both governmental and people-to-people exchanges. Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, many excellent young people, young entrepreneurs in particular, have taken advantage of the opportunities to grow and cooperate, showing great passion, creativity and responsibility. Against this backdrop, we encourage more young people to visit and study in other countries, injecting new vigor into the 10+1 cooperation.
China Report ASEAN: What role do Chinese young people play in China-ASEAN relations? What do you expect for the first ChinaASEAN Youth Summit?
Wan Xuejun: Young people are pioneers and vital forces of cultural exchange. Young people are the cornerstone for the future of state-to-state relations. Overseas students can serve as the “propeller” of friendship and “lubricant” of the relations between China and ASEAN countries. The China-ASEAN Youth Summit can lay a good public foundation for the relationship between China and ASEAN countries.
Through the China-ASEAN Youth Summit, I felt the great potential among young people. I will try hard to provide better platforms for them to pursue their dreams. Today, our events sow the seeds of respect, understanding and friendship. In the future, these seeds will blossom. I believe those young people can work side-by-side to create a closer China-ASEAN community.
China Report ASEAN: In organizing such exchange events, what has impressed you most?
Wan Xuejun: This November, Chinese young people went to Vietnam to take part in the third China-Vietnam Youth Get-togethers. Before leaving Vietnam, the Chinese delegation received a postcard from a Vietnamese volunteer.
“I have been through many farewells, but none of them have been as hard as this one,” she wrote. “I will further contribute my efforts to improving communication between the two countries. On the path of improving China-Vietnam friendship, I travel with you.”
During a training class for Vietnamese young leaders, a female student suffered from severe stomach cramps, and was reduced to tears. Two Chinese teachers took her to the hospital where she received an X-ray and blood tests. During her stay in the hospital, the teachers stayed up to accompany her and helped her eat. The student felt deeply moved by the experience. At this year’s Youth Get-togethers, she paid a special visit to her teachers.
Stories similar to these are extremely common. Regardless of nationality, gender and vocation, heart-to-heart communication is always touching.