By Wang Fengjuan
“I just finished a midterm, so I feel better,” gasped Ponpawit Ponsongkrouk, a Thai sophomore enrolled at the School of International Studies of Peking University, after attending the 11th China- ASEAN Youth Camp and 4th China-ASEAN Youth Summit as a youth delegate.
“Although I didn’t have time to attend class all week, I reviewed the lessons thoroughly, so the midterm didn’t cause toomuch pressure,” illustrated Ponsongkrouk.
“The activities provided a rare opportunity to develop a more in-depth understanding of China and ASEAN,” he continued. “As a Thai student majoring in international relations, such events are right up my alley.” He joined preparation efforts and volunteered to serve as a delegate in the mock 10+3 summit (ASEAN-China, Japan and Republic of Korea leaders’ meeting).
The mock summit focused on the market opportunities of artificial intelligence (AI). Ponsongkrouk represented Japan in a panel discussion. “To present the Japanese perspective as accurately as possible, I studied Japanese policy and research reports on AI and collected industry news on the application of AI in Japan,” explained Ponsongkrouk. He noted that Japan has become an aging society, as has Singapore, and that senior care and healthcare are their shared social problems. Some enterprises are already exploring market opportunities in this realm.
“Today, ASEAN countries have a relatively high proportion of young people in their populations,” said Ponsongkrouk. “What will those countries be like in 30 years?” Ponsongkrouk believes that AI will have penetrated much of everyday life. “Although research on AI has not yet been widely applied, it will one day foster a new technological revolution. To prepare for the future, we must follow developments in this realm.”
“So in the discussions, I proposed China, Japan and South Korea join hands with Singapore in researching and developing AI products to resolve shared social problems hindering development to offer models for ASEAN countries,” commented Ponsongkrouk.
Alongside the academic gains, Ponsongkrouk is also encouraged by friendships he forged with students from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia, from whom he has learned much about these countries. “Before this event, I hardly knew anything about Brunei other than its status as an Islamic country,” he admitted. “Thanks to exchange I made with Bruneian students at the mock summit and youth camp, I learned a great deal about the country including its national conditions and policy goals.”
“At this mock summit in conjunction with the youth camp, I got to know Htet Lynn Oo, a sophomore in the Department of International Relations of the University of Yangon,” said Ponsongkrouk, “We talked a lot about the situation in our own countries as well as other topics of social development. Both of us are interested in international relations and the development of ASEAN, so we quickly became like-minded friends.” Ponsongkrouk has since kept in touch with his new friends through social media. He grinned that a Philippine friend is currently worried about his midterm.
“Young people are the force of the future,” Ponsongkrouk declared. “The mock summit and youth camp have expanded not only my horizons but also my circle of friends. We all share common aspirations to play a role in construction of the future.”