China’s Xiamen in the lens of foreigners

By Chen Shangwen, Bao Han, Over the past 30 years, starting from the comprehensive treatment of the Yundang Lake, Xiamen in southeast China’s Fujian province has actively promoted ecological protection and restoration of sea, river basins, and the entire region. It has continually explored ways to establish a grand vision of environmental governance stretching from mountains to the ocean.

Today, the city flourishes under a fresh, azure sky, surrounded by a pleasing green landscape. Many foreigners who work, study, live, or visit Xiamen have captured the beautiful scenery around them through their lens. Their photographs show a harmonious coexistence of man and nature, vividly illustrating the concept that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.”

Strolling along the Yundang Lake, photography enthusiasts are often captivated by the egret’s beautiful posture and keep snapping photos. Tourists are always seen chatting and enjoying their time at nearby cafes, while the elderly exercise and children play around the lake.

On his first visit to the Yundang Lake, British vlogger Stuart Wiggin was immediately drawn in by the pristine waters, lush banks, and beautiful egrets.

He was told by the locals that the lake was once ecologically damaged, which was hard for him to believe. It was through the sustained efforts of generations to effectively combine high-level protection of the ecosystem, pursuit of high-quality development, and high-quality living conditions, that the Yundang Lake has transformed into the “green lung” and “drawing room” of Xiamen, Wiggin said.

In September 2023, Lazamamindrainy Raharitokindraibe, head of the IT Department of the Ministry of Transport and Meteorology, Madagascar, visited Xiamen to attend a China-Madagascar-Mozambique international training session on voyage data processing, which was hosted by China’s Ministry of Commerce and organized by the Fujian Institute of Oceanography.

The high-rise buildings, beautiful bridges, smooth traffic, blue skies, and azure sea in Xiamen left a deep impression on Raharitokindraibe.

“Through case studies and field visits, I came to understand Xiamen’s development is inseparable from marine governance and protection. I also deeply realized the importance of reasonably developing and utilizing marine resources. I want to bring back home China’s excellent experience in marine governance and protection, to contribute to Madagascar’s future development,” he said.

Following a people-centered development philosophy, Xiamen is committed to protecting and improving its ecological environment. The city is committed to preserving the beautiful beaches for its people. It has also transformed scattered vacant lots or aging small parks into charming “pocket parks,” and built leisure trails around lakes and bays.

The livability of Xiamen has given a deep sense of fulfillment to Nunnaphas Ngamman, the commercial consul of the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Xiamen.

Thailand and China are good neighbors, with China remaining Thailand’s largest trading partner for over a decade, Ngamman said. Currently, more than 20 Thai companies have invested or started businesses in Xiamen. The Xiamen Port has also established an international friendly port relationship with Thailand’s Laem Chabang Port.

“I look forward to Xiamen’s further development, and hope the city can play an even greater role in expanding economic and trade exchanges between Thailand and China,” said Ngamman.

Beyond the appealing environment, Xiamen’s thriving economic development has also left a deep impression on the foreigners living there. Kudaiar Kyzy Nuraiym, a Kyrgyz PhD student at the Research School for Southeast Asian Studies of Xiamen University, noted that China is the world’s largest exporter of goods. She said she was curious about how China achieved such a massive export volume.

“During the visit to Xiamen Port’s Hairun Terminal, I witnessed automated gantry cranes neatly stacking containers, while pure electric patrol vehicles and forklifts busily went back and forth. China’s advanced technology answered the questions in my mind,” she said.

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