Spending five weeks in Dalian was an extraordinary and eventful experience that I probably would do all over again. Sound crazy? It definitely was – but it was an experience that was challenging in so many cool and fun ways and completely out of the norm compared to back home.
The weekly mandarin classes helped me learn key words and phrases to get me through day to day life. I also got to practice mandarin every day during my internship program.
My internship experience provided me the opportunity to immerse myself and gain an insight into the Chinese business culture through the helpful guidance of my supervisor.
The friends that I made on this trip are people I now call family and ones to last a life time.
I was able to meet with other interns who came from all different countries around the world which made my experience in Dalian so much more thrilling and exciting. We spent countless nights together enjoying the night life of the city in either restaurants, bars,
karaoke or just simply exploring the wonderful streets and markets.
One of my highlights was visiting a city called Dandong which is on the border of North Korea and is also where the Great Wall begins from East of China. That day we toured on a boat in a river which separated China on one side and North Korea on the other. We then
climbed the great wall and took some breath-taking pictures of both China and North Korea.
During the five weeks I was able to learn a new language, explore a beautiful city, make new friends, immerse myself in Chinese business, try new foods (that I will sadly miss), visit other great cities and create long lasting memories that will never be forgotten.
Thank you Dalian and InternChina for the wonderful and unforgettable experience.Unsure of what to expect prior to departure I was naturally nervous about living in a country had never anticipated visiting with a family I had never met, working in a company I knew little about. It took only a couple of days for me to realise how lucky I was and how great the coming weeks would be. My homestay family were extremely hospitable and welcoming showing genuine interest in my life back at home while sharing their own with me. Homecooked meals, ping-pong, meeting relatives and sightseeing where commonly on the agenda keeping me very busy throughout the week as I attended weekly Chinese classes and social events catered by InternChina. The role at my internship left me feeling like a travel blogger as I visited restaurants, parks and sporting events writing about them and interviewing partners to help provide a guided experience of Dalian for foreigners. I was thrown into situations which helped expand my preconceived skill set as our company hosted guided tours of new cities visiting historical landmarks informing our customers as we travelled. Because InternChina attracts students from all over the world it was great to make new friends overseas and connections that will prove useful in the future. The dining, nightlife and KTV across Dalian provided endless entertainment for me and all the friends I made along the way. Months after returning, I am still missing Dalian greatly and cannot wait to visit this beautiful city once more.Before I started my homestay, I was pretty nervous. I’ve never stayed at a homestay before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. When Jasmine, one of the coordinators for Intern China (who ended up becoming a good friend of mine) told me that I would be staying with a mother and her eight-year-old daughter, “Jia Jia” ( 佳佳 ) I became more excited. I’m a Visual Communication student but I also work part time at an after school care, so I have experience interacting with children.
The first day I met Jennifer and her daughter, I felt nervous. Jennifer was immensely helpful and she helped me carry my luggage to her car. She then took me to a Westernised restaurant where the three of us shared some Italian food. We got to know each other over the dinner and shortly, she introduced me to my room. It was spacious and lovely. I really enjoyed my room as there was plenty of sun light always coming in and had my own desk to work at.
Jennifer was incredibly kind throughout the whole experience. Although she was busy as she is a manager at a European-Chinese company, she would always make an effort to ensure that I was comfortable and enjoyed my stay. Jennifer would often take her daughter and I out to dinner almost every night and I was able to try a variety of different cuisines, particularly “Si Chuan” dinners, which I came to like and now that I am back in Australia, I really miss it as meals were often hot and spicy. She also cooked me “congee” often, which is a traditional Chinese meal made of rice, with a texture similar to porridge. As I had an internship to go to throughout the day and several events during the evenings/nights with other interns, it was sometimes difficult to make time to properly get to know Jennifer. However, going to dinner with Jennifer a few times a week made it easier to connect with her and her daughter. There was a park where they lived. I’m still a child at heart and enjoy the park, so sometimes I would take Jia Jia there and we would play on the swings and horizontal bars.
I was also able to celebrate Jia Jia’s 9th birthday with her, her best friends and Jennifer at a Japanese restaurant at the Pavilion, known as the “柏威年” -a luxurious shopping mall. I also ended up getting really sick with a fever and flu that lasted for about a week. Jennifer took me to see a Chinese doctor two times that week, to get “cupping therapy” and acupuncture. She also gave me Chinese herbal medicine, which I felt really helped. Looking back, I actually do not mind that I became so sick because I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese medicine. Going through the sickness also allowed me to appreciate how much time Jennifer took out of her schedule to make sure that I was okay and she never complained about it.
Overall, my experience with homestay has been extraordinary and Jennifer and her daughter always have a place in my heart. They said they were planning to come to Australia in the future and I told them I would happily show them around. I am an only child and I’m glad I was able to experience what it was like to have a little sister for a month. Jennifer stuck by me literally through sickness and health. I will never forget Jennifer and her daughter. I’ve also been taking mandarin classes and China was a country I have been wanting to go to for a while. I was able to practice my Mandarin and it has improved significantly and Jennifer was also able to practice her English too. The day before I left Dalian, we had dinner together at one of my favourite restaurants known as “The tree” at the pavilion. Going to China was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I am grateful for all the people I have met including my homestay family, the staff and the other interns from InternChina and that I was able to experience so much in a short amount of time with everyone, including my Australian friends from Western Sydney University. On top of the homestay, I really enjoyed my internship (Honestly, enjoyed is such an understatement. I absolutely loved it!) I am so grateful for my trip and I cannot wait to see more of the world.After 5 weeks in China I’ve learned a lot of things. One of these things is that it is possible to survive the streets, shops and restaurants merely by pointing at pictures and using translators. However, to enrich the experience I’d strongly recommend doing basic Chinese languages just because of how helpful and fun they have been for me. There is also a strangely comforting feeling when you can understand even just a few words of what people passing by are saying. All the Australian interns who arrived in Dalian have been lucky enough to attend language classes at the Youhou Panda Chinese Learning School. Our classes run on Mondays at 9 am for three hours, and have the same extremely friendly and laid back vibe that we Australians love. We get plenty of breaks and can ask questions whenever we want. Our first lesson was purely focused on pronunciation because of the difficulty most people find with just saying basic Chinese words in a way that people can actually understand. Over several lessons, we started to build up small vocabularies by learning the names for foods, countries and numbers among other topics. In the last few lessons we have learned how to construct basic sentences. However, the most important features of these classes are the basic phrases that can be used in real life conversations and scenarios in China. These may seem trivial but just being able to tell your cab driver where you’re from or ask them how their day is going makes the entire trip seem a little more like home. I’ve recently purchased a language book from the school and intend to keep up my learning when I get back!As apart of our internship with InternChina we were invited to attend a business forum hosted by International Entrepreneurship Corridor (IEC) Dalian. This event was designed to give an insight to the support systems are in place in China, namely Dalian, for starting up entrepreneurial businesses as well as providing some case study examples of successful entrepreneurial business models. Following this we had the opportunity to partake in a Q & A panel and network after the session finished. I should disclaimer right now that I have no interest in establishing my own business here in China or anywhere else in the world, I have other career goals in mind, however, I couldn’t help but be totally intrigued, I really wanted to understand the business framework in China compared to my home country Australia.
The first session was presented by Dr Zain Farooq, Co-Founder of IEC, he provided an insight into IEC and the opportunities it provides to foreigners wanting to establish themselves into the Chinese market. He additionally discussed opportunities and some of the challenges that are expected to be faced when entering the Chinese market. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the support that was provided by IEC and how welcoming local districts were at foreigners establishing businesses locally – although it makes sense if it means locals get employed from it.
The next two sessions were the case study examples of current expat entrepreneurs in Dalian, the first of these was by Matthias Kistler. Matthias is the Founder and Managing Director of ECTD Group which basically is a company with multiple ventures within it, such as beer imports, flooring business and consultancy. Prior to him explaining this he took us through his journey, which in my honest opinion I believe was of more value as it gave us an insight into the uphill battle that one may need to push through to be successful. I gained from this that you should never lose sight of your dream goal, regardless to the obstacles along the way, if you work hard at it you can achieve it! It was also refreshing hearing that what might seen like a devastating moment at that point of time, it will become a value lesson for future endeavours. The second case study was a presentation on a innovative newly developed app W@PP – We Are Party People – which is a social media type app connecting people to various nightlife establishments and events. This was co-delivered by Dr Zain Farooq and Freddie Kalongi, they gave us the background behind why it was developed and the timeline to get it from idea to BETA version.
Wrapping up the night was the Q & A Panel and the networking session, this is where I bloomed. My eager questions were setting the scene about the intricate details of businesses starting up and developing in Dalian China.
Such a worthy event to attend, even if it’s just to pique your interest!Before signing up to complete my internship with InternChina, I had no idea about Dalian. You could say I was pretty sheltered from the globalised development of the city and all the western companies establishing themselves in the local Dalian area. However, this changed (perhaps I’m still a little sheltered though) thanks to InternChina. On one of our activity days we were able to explore ‘behind the scenes’ one particular company Eldor Corporation.
For those who are like me, that is, naïve and uncultured in the vast world of global businesses, Eldor is an Italian company that produces ignition systems, electronic control units and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles. They originally established themselves on the market in 1972 developing transformers for TV units, however, in the mid-90s they predicted that these units would be phased out due to technology advancements, so naturally they did what any smart business would, they invested heavily into research and development, which lead to them transitioning out of TV units and into the automotive industry – apparently this is a logical transition, something to do with the coil wrapping skills (I just smiled and nodded, I don’t see the similarity of cars and TVs but hey I’m a business student).
The site tour started with a presentation on the company, giving us background knowledge of Eldor and what they stand for, plus they gave us an amazing insight to their impressive operations, seriously they are a well-oiled machine, they would be a great case study for ‘how to business right’! After this insight we had the opportunity to see upfront and personal the manufacturing plant, in action! From start to finish we were able to witness and have each stage explained to us. Personally, I have been in plant tours before but none where I was able to be so up close to see each moving part of the process.
All my preconceived judgements were totally wiped, operational processes that are in place ensure efficiency, and should there be a ‘cog’ in the production line that drags down the assembly line then it is analysed and rectified. I was equal parts impressed and moved that they depict transparency, accountability, gender equality (yes I am a feminist, I’m all about equality) and they focus on their environmental impact. Furthermore, the staff have all occupational health and safety requirements catered for and they are provided with a gym and a basketball court – legit can I work for them??
They have a 3 pillar approach dream, passion and technology and detailed company mission, vision and values which is obviously more than just for show (unlike a number of other companies, personal opinion of course). It is genuinely impressive when you see a company’s approach not only displayed as words but also through their actions. It is easy to see why they have received so many rewards and have over 50% market share in Europe and 22% globally. Did I mention in 2015 they transition to an industrial model that led to zero defects with their products – kind of reassuring when their products are going into our cars!
Excellence is an art won by training and habitation… We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an art but a habit.
-Aristotle- (a quote that Eldor have in the business framework)Hello from China! A few days ago, on the 25th of June five of us were lucky enough to attend a Chinese calligraphy class. We had finished a big lunch and wondered up to the very top of a beautiful thirty story building. Once we were on the 29th level we entered the school and took a set of stairs even higher to a room that overlooked Dalian’s busy streets. Our teacher proceeded to provide a background on the history and evolution of Chinese characters. Following this, she brought out a cover for the table and laid out a large piece of paper for each of us. We were shown the correct way to hold the brush, vertically between your ring and middle fingers, while also being shown how to turn water into ink with traditional ink sticks. The next part was very fun as we were all given Chinese names. We were taught the names of the various strokes and the importance of writing them in the correct stroke order. Only then were we allowed to put brush to paper! I’m not very much of an artist but I’d like to think that my final attempt didn’t turn out so badly. We then learnt how to say and write I love you, which I got to take a picture of and send to my parents back home. I’m sure the other interns would agree when I say it’s an experience worth having when in Dalian.
Living in China is all about trying various Chinese dishes from different parts of country, exploring new tastes and coming back to places where the food is outstanding. But sometimes we miss Western food, whether it is food from our own country or from another. Thanks to a large number of foreigners in most of China’s major cities, we can enjoy Western cuisine from different countries in many restaurants. Today, I want to introduce you some of the best (based on foreigners’ taste buds) Western restaurants in Dalian. Let’s start!
Brooklyn Bar and Restaurant 布鲁克林西餐厅 (Bùlǔkè lín xī cāntīng)
This place consists of everything what is called “Western food”. The menu combines modern creative and traditional authentic American food in a Brooklyn – styled restaurant. There, you can taste fresh home-made bread, sauces and sausages. Western atmosphere is maintained by the American owner – Wayne and English-speaking staff.
184 Bulao Jie Xigang District, Wanda Huafu 2nd floor, north of Huanghe Road, Dalian
Indian Hut 印度人家餐厅 (Yìn duó rénjiā cāntīng)
Indian Hut with authentic Indian food prepared by an Indian chief. In this restaurant you can feel like in India not only by the food but also because of the décor. The menu has English and photos, so if you are not familiar with Indian food and the names do not tell you anything, you can choose by looking, though we “eat with our eyes”!
Kaisa Plaza B1, Tianjin Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian
Here we can find European food, not only from Denmark but also Italian pizza and variety of other European dishes. This is a place good for brunch as well as for dinner, and their choice of desserts is mouth watering!
111 Tian Jin Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian
Blue Frog 蓝蛙 (Lán wā)
Famous among Dalian Ex pats as well as Locals for its burgers and cocktails but offers much more dishes from American cuisine. The restaurant has a really tempting offer buy one – get one free on burgers and drinks on Monday afternoon and DIY drinks during happy hour.
L40445 Pavilion Shopping Centre 4F, 129-3 Zhongshan Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian
Al Bacio 那之吻匹萨 (Nà zhī wěn pǐ sà)
Al Bacio is the most well – known for its real Italian pizza baked in the wood stove but it also has many kinds of Italian pasta and starters. You can combine the food with an Italian wine or freshly made fruit juice. The nice thing about the restaurant is that the kitchen is separated from the dining hall by glass wall, so the customers can watch their food being prepared.
No. 1, Floor 2, Unit 1, 375 Jiefang Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian
Lenbach Restaurant & Bar 兰巴赫 (Lán Bāhè)
Restaurant offers German cuisine specialities in Dalian. Lenbach’s flagship dish is a traditional German sausage platter with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. To enjoy your meal to the fullest it is best to have it with a pint of German craft beer.
L4030 Pavilion Shopping Centre 4F, 129-3 Zhongshan Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian
Friday 星期五餐吧 (Xīngqíwǔ cān ba)
As Dalian was under Russian rule for a significant period of time in its history, there is much Russian heritage in the city. Besides many Russian accents in Dalian’s architecture, also places with Russian cuisine can be found. In Friday you can not only eat delicious Russian food but also feel the climate of Russia by the interior décor of the place.
208 Bulao Street, Xigang District, Dalian
Aux Petits Plaisirs 小乐趣 (Xiǎo lèqù)
Authentic French restaurant in Dalian with an energetic owner-chef Julien who prepares mouth watering meals as well as maintains friendly atmosphere, so the guests can feel at home. The restaurant has an interesting wine cellar to which guests can have access.
43 Zehui Road, Shahekou District, Dalian
Euro – Bake 欧倍客 (Ōu bèi kè)
Cosy cafe & bakery in the heart of Labour Park – one of Dalian’s best attractions. Great for a bit of rest after walk in this lovely park or time spent on carousels and ferry wheel (underneath which it is located). Euro – Bake is famous for its wide range of cakes, pizza and bread followed by delicious coffee.
5 Jiefang Street, Zhongshan District, Dalian (inside the Labour Park)
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Hello! My name is Anna, and I am from Poland. Last week I started my internship with the InternChina Dalian office, as part of the Bookings and Marketing Team.
I am currently in my third year of Business Management and Chinese at University of Central Lancashire. This year is my year abroad, so I decided to spend it half on studying, half on getting work experience.
My first semester was a Chinese language course at Beijing International Studies University. It was my second time in China, and my second time at BISU! Last year I visited that university for a two weeks long summer language course, and I liked it so much I chose BISU again!
For the work experience part in China, I chose to do my internship with InternChina. As I wanted to put the theory I have learned during my two years of studying into practice, and this internship covers all subjects of my studies, it was the perfect choice!
Dalian vs. Beijing
When I was sure that I want to do my internship with InternChina, I found it difficult to decide on which office I should choose!
I chose Dalian because of its location – at the peninsula with a lot of beaches, places for hiking and greenery, and because of its history. Dalian is definitely a very beautiful city with many cultures mixed up, which can be seen in the architecture and food.
Because of Russian and Japanese occupations, Dalian has many buildings and public places in the style of those countries. Beijing is much more homogeneous in style, thus it has more developed areas with new Western-style buildings along with suburban areas with old, grey and boring blocks.
Food in Dalian is very influenced by Korean, Japanese and Russian cuisine. I really love that variety. But the main cooking style is Shandong cuisine, with the influence of North-Eastern Chinese cuisine. This means there is a huge choice of seafood from casual fish and prawns to more sophisticated (at least for Westerners!) dishes like sea cucumber or sea urchins.
What I really like in Dalian is that it is a much less busy and crowded city than Beijing. On the streets there are much fewer people and cars, and the queues in shops are shorter.
Differences in Beijing and Dalian
One big difference between Beijing and Dalian is the subway link. I am used to travelling everywhere by Beijing subway as it is the most convenient and foreigner-friendly means of transport. On the train, you can see a board with stations in Chinese characters and Pinyin, and which station the train is approaching as well as hearing the announcement in both Chinese and English.
The Dalian subway is not that well-developed, and my apartment is not located near any metro station. But do I have a bus stop very close to my house with busses leaving every couple of minutes. The announcements are all in Chinese, so I have an opportunity to perfect my Chinese listening skills!
I have already fallen in love with the winter scenery of Dalian, with snow and all the colourful lights on buildings at night. However, I am really looking forward to warm days to explore Dalian’s most beautiful places and learn more about culture and history of that city!
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Dalian is a fantastic place for you not only for internship, but it is also a great place to enjoy yourself and explore other destinations nearby. You have been in Dalian for a while now and are already familiar with places around you and want to go somewhere you have never been before? If you want to experience something different then why not have a look outside the city’s borders and go for a weekend or day-trip in the surrounding area?
There are many choices for you to have fun in or near Dalian instead of staying in the city centre. Since Dalian has an excellent geographic location, which is close to many national parks, resorts and many other attractions and scenic areas. You can easily discover new places and have fun outside of the city centre of Dalian during the weekend. Here are some recommendations for sightseeing and outdoor attractions, which are close Dalian.
1. Lushun (旅顺)
Actually, Lushun is a district and it belongs to Dalian city. However, since it is not really close to the downtown (about 30 kilometres), it’s becoming one of the best choices for local people to enjoy themselves during the vacation. Lushun has a very special history background as well, it was a colony of Japan and Russia several decades ago. Therefore, there are lots of museums, old battleships (close to the West Harbor) in Lushun. There are also lots of resorts and scenic areas for you to visit as well.
2. Golden Pebble Beach (金石滩 Jinshitan)
This is another area that attracts many visitors, especially during summertime. The Golden Pebble Beach is well-developed and it has an amusement park, a golf club, and of course beaches. There are also lots of nice hotels there as well. You can enjoy the nature and beautiful seaside scenery here. You can conveniently reach it via monorail from downtown Dalian – the monorail station is located right behind Dalian train station, the ride to Jinshitan takes around 1 hour.
3. Changshan Islands
Want to enjoy the life on islands? Fishing enthusiast? Then you should consider a trip here. You can go out fishing with native people on a boat in the morning, and enjoy seafood in the afternoon. This is also one of the best places to experience life like a native. Highly recommend visiting islands during the summer since the sea water is warm enough to swim. You can easily go there by ship from Dalian Port and it usually takes about two to three hours to get there.
Dandong is a small city located on the border of China. It is about 300 kilometres away from Dalian. Even though it is a little bit farther away, thanks to the newly built high-speed train link it only takes two hours to get there. There are many places for you to visit there, like Yalu river, which separates the two countries, the famous Broken Bridge, Phoenix Mountain for a hike, or even a section of the Great Wall from which you can oversee North Korean territories. If you want, there are also lots of agencies which can take you to North Korea and have a unique experience, either enjoy North Korean traditional food, or discover what life is like under Kim Jong-Un’s control.
5. Seoul, South Korea
You might be surprised if it is possible to go abroad in this short period of time, because you never realise that it only takes 55 minutes by plane to Seoul from Dalian. You can enjoy Korean barbecue, beer, or if you like K-pop, superstars, this should be your first destination because famous companies like SM Entertainment, JYP and so on are located in Seoul as well. A visit to the imperial palace, ancient temples and famous Gangnam district also should be included in a trip there. Here is a cool site which gives you some tips on where to stay in Seoul: https://triphappy.com/seoul/where-to-stay/84746.
(Attention: if you plan a trip outside of China, make sure about that your visa for the People’s Republic of China is a double entry or multiple entry visa, otherwise you won’t be able to re-enter the country!)
Credit to: 曲天昊 (Danny Qu)
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I have been living in Dalian for about 4 years, but most of the time, I stayed at a small northern part of Dalian, called Jinshitan. I know the area very well and know all the places to go to have some fun. As I know Jinshitan so well, I can take advantage of its beautiful scenery, great restaurants and other locations, where everyone can have a good time.
When I think of this place, I think of the beach and the endless shoreline along it. It is a truly beautiful and a relaxing place to be around. When I have free time, I just go to the beach with my friends to play volleyball or frisbee. After enjoying the sunny day with my friends, it is good to just relax and lay on the sand at the beach, feel the breeze from the tides and get a tan. The beach in Jinshitan is big and lets everyone to enjoy the summer while playing games, sports or relaxing outside, which is one of the main reasons I love this place.
Things to do:
Another way to spend time in this area, by just walking around Jinshitan. Jinshitan is not a big place, but offers a lot of things that, downtown Dalian does not have. However, there is no doubt about that, walking along the beach is my favourite thing to do in Jinshitan. There are many other great attractions and activities for visitors and locals in Jinshitan, such as a hunting club, which is located near the end of the shoreline, where you can shoot clay pigeons or do paint ball with friends. The prices of these activities are affordable and it is definitely a place where I would go with my friends. There is a huge amusement park in Jinshitan, called Discoveryland and it is always filled with people during the summer. It is a very popular attraction both for locals and the visitors of Dalian.
There is also the Jinwan golf course and a soccer field in Jinshitan as well as many other activities and attractions, which can be enjoyed both by locals and tourists. There is also a hiking trail along the coast, which takes around two hours to walk. It is great for people who enjoy being outdoors and there is a beautiful sight along the way. Due to the low population of Jinshitan it is easy to get around and find the way to all attractions and restaurants. Anyone, who is looking for a place to have a have a getaway near Dalian, should visit Jinshitan as it is definitely the right place.
Some other popular activities and attractions in Jinshitan include the hot spring resort, which is wonderful, but the prices are also higher than other resorts in the area. However, it is located at an amazing area with good and clean environment and the hot spring resort is also very clean and worth a visit. There are some restaurants and street food markets nearby, which is very convenient, if the visitors of the hot spring resort would like to go for a tasty dinner after their relaxing time at the resort.
Clubbing / Dinning:
There is a newly opened club in Jinshitan, Soho916. It is a popular spot for young people from the local colleges and universities. The club has large parties on Thursdays and Fridays. There is great music provided by two DJs, one is from America and another from Peru. The club is located at the very northern part of Jinshitan, so people who would like to go to this club will need to take taxi or some other type of transportation.
Jinshitan is worth visiting just to try some of the food it offers. As I mentioned before Jinshitan is a small area, with not too many people and most of the local people live in the area near the Jinshitan hospital. However, the number of tourists increase during the main holiday season, making Jinshitan a popular holiday destination for domestic tourists as well as for some international visitors. In this area, there are many great and tasty food, my favourites, include some western restaurants and barbecue places. Toni Kocht is a very good German restaurant with very reasonable prices. The street at the jīn shí tān yī yuàn 金石滩医院 area, which has many barbecue places, is amazing and worth the visit. The food in Jinshitan is definitely worth trying.
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Credit to 陈有健 (Jack Chen)
World Economic Forum (WEF) Background:
In 2007, a Swiss non-profit organisation approved the creation of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is also known as the Annual Meeting of the New Champions or the Summer Davos. The event takes place annually and the 2017 WEF is held in our North-Eastern Chinese city, Dalian between the 27th of June and the 29th of June. The Summer Davos is held annually in China altering between Dalian and Tianjin. The Summer Davos has around 2000 participants from the Global Growth Companies foundation, which is generally made up of emerging countries with rapid growth, such as China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and India, but there are also several developed countries involved in the foundation. WEF is a community with members from around 90 countries, involving governments, leaders of major multinationals, civil society, media and academic individuals. WEF’s annual meetings include not only members of the foundation, but also fast-growing regions, global leaders, international technology leaders and competitive cities.
The effects of the Summer Davos WEF in Dalian is noticeable in various areas. There are large number of reconstruction of buildings and roads in the city and increased security measures everywhere in the city center. The number of both international and domestic visitors increased during the week of the WEF. Therefore, most of the flights and hotels are already booked out. The media and press pays increased attention on the happenings and events in Dalian. The World Economic Forum along with many other internationally known events help Dalian to gain international recognition and to become one of the globally known Chinese cities. This enlarged international acceptance will benefit Dalian, by becoming the host of other international events, undergo further projects and turn into a new international trading center of China.
Aims of the 2017 Summer World Economic Forum (WEF):
The main focuses of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting will involve the sharing and circular economy, new technology innovations and green investment to improve environmental management. By discussing these topics, the WEF members try to address the global environmental risks, facing all countries around the world. These possible environmental risks were pointed out in the latest annual Global Risks Report of the committee. Climate change, sustainable growth and environmental protection are the prime discussion cases during the 2017 Summer Davos meeting in Dalian. The WEF committee plans to centralise their concern on the climate change issue, which is one of the most impactful risk and therefore a vital problem, affecting all members of the WEF as well as other countries around the world.
One of the reasons for keeping this year’s Summer Davos meeting in China is because China plays an extremely important role as world leader in sustainable and green development. In 2016, the world’s biggest issuer of green bonds was the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. However, China is facing environmental challenges, including smog, which is becoming a major issue in most metropolitan cities around the world. Therefore, the 2017 Summer Davos meeting’s top priority focus will be on solving environmental issues, such as smog, in order to improve the urban air quality of populous cities.
The WEF committee believes that global cooperation can be created between public and private sectors in order to create new alliances and counter the existing environmental issues and prevent the rise of further environmental problems in the future. By establishing cooperation between firms in the public and private sectors, the members of the WEF assume that they can demonstrate collaborations, instead of isolation, to the younger generation and attain benefits to all in the future.
Further plans that the members propose to carry out after the 2017 WEF meeting, include investment in green energy, green infrastructure, green transportation and they believe that having a circular economy is fundamental to raise the level of economic growth. Furthermore, China’s goal is to highlight the idea of sustainability and innovation alongside with strong Chinese characteristics and an international appeal. The annual World Economic Forum helps to unite the existing and new fast-growing organisations, which shape the future of business and society. It is an event that highlights relevant global challenges from economic, societal, environmental and political backgrounds, and encourages its members to act in a way that will benefit to everyone in the long run.
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The establishment of the Liaoning Free Trade Zone (FTZ) was approved in September 2017 and since then, Dalian’s goal is to create a sufficient and stable business environment. The new FTZ will involve three major cities of Liaoning province, including Dalian, Shenyang and Yingkou. Dalian is already part of the Jinpu New Area, which helped to increase its international and domestic trade levels, including international partnerships with South Korea, Japan and Russia.
Jinpu New Area is a strategic region for regional co-operation of firms in Northeast Asia. It was formed in 2014 and became the 10th of China’s Big National Districts as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan. The main aim of the Dalian Jinpu New Area is to develop the opening-up and reform of China, as well as to expand the coastal economic relationships in Liaoning Province and to boost the economic growth in the North-Eastern part of the country. The Jinpu New Area was approved by the State Council, in the hope of making Dalian a pilot zone for innovation. Since the formation of the New Area, large number of functional zones have been set up within the district. Some of these functional zones, include tariff-free zone, bonded port areas, national tourist resorts and export processing zones. The New Area helped Dalian to become a global logistics and international shipping centre. The New Area has both economic and geographical advantages for businesses, operating in Dalian and its surroundings.
In 2017, the Chinese government approved the creation of the Liaoning Free Trade Zone. It is made up of three sectors, Dalian, Shenyang and Yingkou. The new Liaoning Free Trade Zone covers state-level high-tech zones, bonded harbour area, the Jinpu New District as well as numerous industrial parks. The regions that will have special customs supervision, will have a focus on the search for institutional innovation that can improve the accessibility of trade, logistics and the processing of bonded services. On the other hand, areas which are not under special customs supervision will focus on exploring potential reforms of the investment system, innovation of the finance sector, the promotion of transformation of the manufacturing industry as well as on the opening-up of the Chinese service industry. The government made registration convenient for companies, which are located at the Dalian Area of China, Liaoning Free Trade Zone, by setting up a special registration service window for organisations based in the Jinpu New Area and by helping companies to adopt a virtual registration service. Reports of the registration shows that half of the firms used the virtual registration mode to settle down in Jinpu New Area. These organisations include firms in the finance, trade, biological science, equipment manufacturing and port and shipping logistics industries. According to reports, Dalian has copied and promoted around 102 innovative measures of the Shanghai FTZ, as well as of other pilot Free Trade Zones.
There are three main goals that the Chinese government tries to achieve by creating the Liaoning Free Trade Zone along with several new laws. The first, is to focus on speeding up the market-orientated institutional mechanism reforms. In order to do this, the Liaoning Free Trade Zone will mostly be based on the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and adapt new reforms and accomplish further institutional innovations, which are easily adaptable by the cities covered by the Liaoning Free Trade Zone. These changes should mainly focus on the function of the local government and expand the power of decentralization, improve services and to authorize supervision. These changes should help to improve the business environment and the restructuring and upgrading of industries in the involved areas.
The second, is to focus equally on the introduction, development and show a new image in team building of talents. Introduction of new talents is important and should be done efficiently and high-level talents should be brought from global and international perspective. The involved are should improve the training and education and overall quality of cadres as well as to work hard, overcome difficulties and try to create a dynamic situation of competing for development.
Lastly, the cities in the Liaoning Free Trade Zone should also open-up further to the outside world in order to help to build and achieve a new economic system. They should take part in the international competition and cooperate with other areas, but at the same time fully connect to the national “One Belt One Road” strategy. They should improve their trade systems, so that it meets common rules of international investment and trade, and look for new competitive advantages in foreign trade. Regions in the Liaoning Free Trade Zone can achieve development in its foreign trade system by enhance their technologies, investment attractions and intelligence attractions.
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Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in North China- to the north it borders with Mongolia and the north east tip borders with Russia. The region is a home to the most scorching dry deserts in China, but also (ironically) to the most beautiful lush grassland sceneries. Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, is popular among tourists for grassland tours. Another popular place is Xiangshawan, or “singing sands gorge” which is located in the Gobi Desert. It was a region I did not hear a lot about before I came to China, but I came across a local advertisement about a trip to Baogutu Desert in Inner Mongolia.
When I heard that a travel company named Local Ren organises a trip to Baogutu desert (宝古图沙漠), which is the biggest desert in Northeast China, I signed up immediately with my fellow colleague from InternChina. The Local Ren travel agency is actually a student start-up. Although they were not always professional, they seemed very easy-going and were making jokes all the time! In the end, 80 people signed up, who were for the most part international students from all over the world.
On our first date, we left Dalian, Liaoning province and travelled to Fuxin, a town located on the border between Liaoning province and Inner Mongolia. The more we approached the town, the more the scenery changed to endless rice fields. Also, the temperature kept on rising, reaching 32 degrees! Quite a difference from what I was used to in the UK. After six hours of travelling, our local Chinese guide told us that we had reached Fuxin, a rather small town of just 2 million! What I noticed while I was passing through was that there were lots of Mongolian BBQ restaurants, whose signs were written both in Mandarin Chinese and Mongolian. Apparently, both languages co-exist in the region, however Inner Mongolia uses the traditional Mongolian script for their alphabet, whereas the Republic of Mongolia uses the Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet, which they adopted due to Soviet influence.
When we arrived in Fuxin, the receptionist had to take a photo of our passport front page and visa. This is a standard procedure in China, that’s why a foreigner must carry their passport all the time when visiting new places. After that, we found a Mongolian hot pot with lamb meat. As the locals were not used to see foreigners, they were buying us more things to try and the servers were very kind and sweet.
On the next day we left for Baogutu desert. On the way, I saw that there were many tree plantations. The guide told me that the government is trying to claim back the land from the spreading desert. There were many trees planted and workers watering them. It would be interesting to see in a decade if their plan is successful.
The road to the desert was narrow and the condition of the road was bad. When we arrived at the tourist centre everything seemed under construction. There were several skeletons of hotels, but there were public bathrooms with plumbing and 3G! The organisers gave us our tents and other students showed us how to build one. In one hour, 50 tents were laid out proudly over a vacant field. After we secured them, we were divided into teams. The travel agency gave us ankle protectors and masks and we set off into the desert.
In the beginning of our hiking, I was not impressed. There were newly planted trees everywhere and I thought it did not look like a real desert. The camel guides saw us and approached us- each of them showing off their animals. They had dressed them in traditional Mongolian colours and were following us along the way like shadows.
The deeper we went into the desert, the more the heat was becoming unbearable. After 30 minutes, a landscape of endless sand dunes spread in front of our eyes. The white sands stretched out over the horizon unevenly and lazily. There were spots where the wind was unsettling the dunes, but did not impede our breathing.
As we were the only tourists there we had plenty of camels to choose from. It cost only 30 RMB for a camel ride. Also, we could sand board if we wanted to, but most of us were taking photos with the camels which were idly laying in the sand and were not scared by being touched.
In three hours’ time, we head back to our camping site. Due to the strong wind, we couldn’t have had a bonfire, so we had only a BBQ. The meat was halal and there were plenty of vegetables. The BBQ was like an organised chaos- although no one assigned jobs, everyone just picked what they are good at and stuck with the task. But as the night advanced, the wind grew stronger. Eventually, the organisers asked us to return to our tents as the wind was blowing them away and they were literally people chasing them after. As a result, we returned to our tents, but found a unique way to continue to have fun. A group of Thai people played the guitar and sang from their tent. We connected a microphone to a big portable speaker so everyone could enjoy the music. At the same time, people were sharing what food and drink they had left, despite the hordes of sand that the wind was blowing against us. It was a night to remember!
In the morning, most of us woke up to see the sunrise after the sandstorm. We all helped each other to pack up the tents and travelled 12 hours by bus back to Dalian. Overall, this experience was worth every penny and every minute. If you are looking for an adventure – Inner Mongolia is the place for it!
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