By Wang Fengjuan
At the closing ceremony of the 11th China-ASEAN Youth Camp (CAYC) and the Fourth China-ASEAN Youth Summit (CAYS), a young man dressed in a neat suit and blackrimmed glasses handed over copies of the China-ASEAN Youth Declaration to guests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, ASEAN-China Centre and Peking University on behalf of all delegates attending the events. His name was Lim Qin Yong. As secretary general of the fourth edition of CAYS, he hopes the proposals outlined in the Declaration , which wereunanimously approved by young participants, can play a role in helping governments, international organizations and universities tackle hot-button issues.
An international student majoring in data science at Peking University’s Yuanpei College, Lim has performed exceptionally on exams and in international mathematics competitions while showing great interest in history, philosophy and debating. “I want exposure to different ways of thinking and diverse cultures,”stresses Lim. “These activities broaden my horizons.” He participated in the second CAYS as a representative at model meetings and the third as a team leader in charge of meeting agenda planning and presiding over general discussions.
This year’s CAYS was held alongside the CAYC, which brought challenges for the new secretary general. The event was extended from three days of previous years to seven days, and two-thirds of the attendees came from ASEAN member states. “We invited overseas participants through various channels like posting event information on social media platforms,” Lim explains. “We also sent invitations to organizations engaged in Model United Nations as well as higher education institutions in ASEAN countries. For example, with the help of a Myanmar delegate from previous events, we contacted the University of Yangon.” According to Lim, invitations, brochures and paperwork were published in multiple languages for the convenience of participants from different countries.
Working with the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China was an unforgettable experience for foreign students like Lim. To avoid misunderstandings, he carefully considered his wording when communicating with people from the organization. “I was not previously familiar with procedures for organizing an international meeting in China,” he admits. “From the fourth CAYS, I learned a lot and gained first-hand knowledge of preparations for activities of this magnitude such as related financial procedures and document submission.”
“Face-to-face communication helps enhance mutual understanding and eliminate misunderstandings,” notes Lim. “For example, people often assume that ‘Malay’ refers to any person from Malaysia, but it actually refers to an Austronesian ethnic group inhabiting Malaysia and parts of Indonesia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Malaysia is an ethnically diverse country whose population consists of people of Malay, Chinese, Indian and other ethnic origins.”
“Young people often develop shallow opinions of other countries via the internet,” opines Lim. “CAYS provides a platform for youth to truly meet their peers from neighboring countries and break through common stereotypes through direct dialogue.” He jokes that every participant can be sure that Malaysians don’t live in tree houses.
“CAYS represents a new start, and youth exchange between ASEAN and China will reach new heights in the years to come,” predicts Lim. The CAYC and CAYS will continue to serve the young generation in the East, inspiring them to work together to build a better tomorrow.