China Daily: Gen Zers track Chinese path to modernization in Youth Power

BEIJING, March 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — From the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year to the two sessions political gatherings in Beijing recently, the topic of Chinese path to modernization has attracted worldwide attention. The 10th episode of the second season of the China Daily series Youth Power, titled “With Gen Z aboard, modernization is unstoppable”, was broadcast on March 30.

In this episode, Gen Zers from China, Cameroon, France, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Russia gathered at Tianjin Port to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese modernization.

Drawing from their own stories and experiences in Tianjin Port, Gen Zers looked at the values and key features of Chinese modernization. They also dug into the roles young people play in ensuring its success, and at the impact the country’s modernization will have on the rest of the world.

Young people from around the globe were invited to see the operation of Tianjin Port and were particularly  impressed with the level of automation, witnessing the innovation and progress of China’s infrastructure construction and science and technology. With the aid of simulation they also tried the remote operation of loading and unloading by quay cranes. By the end of their visit all had a much deeper appreciation of the achievements of Chinese modernization.

Gen Zers have recognized that Chinese modernization is socialist modernization pursued under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. It includes elements common to modernization in many countries, but at the same time has distinct characteristics unique to China.

“Chinese modernization is really something that attracts a lot of global attention, because China has managed to modernize at a faster pace and bigger scale than perhaps any country in the history of the whole world,” said Matthew Kelly, an Irishman studying at Peking University. He was amazed by what he saw at Tianjin Port and marveled at Chinese modernization.

Cabrel Domche from Cameroon called China’s accomplishments over the past 40 years a miracle and said he sees the country as a model for Africa. Chinese modernization offers humanity a new choice for achieving modernization, the program’s guests said.

“In terms of the economic side of modernization, China only started a few decades ago,” said the program’s presenter, Zhong Yutong. “If we compare things through a longer historical lens we see how tremendous all this is.”

The Gen Zers also said that Chinese modernization reveals another path to modernization that differs from the Western model, expanding channels for developing countries to achieve modernization.

Nora Edwin, a Nigerian studying at Shanghai International Studies University, said the Western world colonized Africa, contrasting with China’s goal of fostering and building bilateral relationships. “China is giving you a choice,” she said, and that is one of the differences between Western and Chinese modernization.

Pei Haotian, who works at Tianjin Port, said that the differences are also demonstrated in approaches to progress. “We are people-oriented. We don’t sacrifice the environment to develop our economy.”

He cited wind turbines that generate power at Tianjin Port, illustrating that Chinese modernization is indeed one of harmony between humanity and nature.

The Gen Zers focused on the five characteristics of Chinese path to modernization, namely the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development.

Tomiris Yelshibek from Kazakhstan said that prosperity for all means that “all people, through hard work, can achieve self-confidence, self-improvement and peace”.

Matthew Kelly talked of a recent trip he undertook to Yunnan province, including trains traveling at 300 kilometers an hour, 5G reception in far-flung mountain ranges giving internet access, and the ubiquitous scanned payments system.

All these, he said, were the result of the Chinese government’s investment in infrastructure regardless of financial gain or loss. “The government investment really improves local people’s lives and is really creating modernization for all.”

Han Shuyuan of Tsinghua University in Beijing gave examples of how technological advances can be used in targeted poverty alleviation. By increasing farmers’ revenue, improving citizens’ quality of life and sustainable poverty reduction through rural tourism, the production of agricultural brands, and e-commerce livestreaming, Chinese modernization is benefitting Chinese people, he said. “On Chinese modernization journey everyone can benefit from technology.”

Zeng Kailai, a Tsinghua student interning with the United Nations Development Programme, said China has not been engaged in any war in the past 40 years. He also highlighted China’s successful recent diplomatic engagement with Saudi Arabia as an example of the country’s role in upholding world peace and security.

Shamim Zakaria, an Indian journalist working in China, recounted India’s history of colonialism, saying that what sets China apart from the West is the development of mutual respect and common progress. “In a world fraught with conflict and uncertainties, China is playing an increasingly important role in global affairs,” he said.

At the end of the episode, Gen Z guests engaged in animated debate on the future of Chinese modernization. China’s evolution has helped humanity solve challenges common to all and has contributed to the cause of human peace and development, they said.

Zhong Yutong concluded that Chinese path to modernization is unique, but that it is open to be shared by other countries and regions. “There are lessons that we would love to give to other people. However, that does not mean we want to impose our own model on anyone.”

Chinese modernization will help the world tackle the challenges it faces and promote modernization in other countries, the Gen Zers said. As China presses on with modernization, ever more young people will contribute to it and to modernizing the world.

Youth Power, organized by China Daily, aims to build a global platform of communication and exchange, focusing on the interests and ideas of Generation Z. The program comes in the form of interviews, forums and speeches, with topics related to anything of current interest in the world. This episode is the final one in the program’s second season. The third season begins in June.