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International Influencers in Wenzhou: Our Life Is the Best “China Story”

04-23

So what is China like?

  For Sumayyah Hosany, from Mauritius, China is wonderful. A video of her explaining China’s COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines to her family was watched by more 250,000 people after it was uploaded to the internet, earning her overnight fame.

  For Ergashev Akmal, from Tajikistan, China is a lot of fun. In the past few years that he’s been living in Wenzhou, he is able to enjoy authentic Wenzhou snacks every day and experience local life along the streets of the city, while recording his wonderful moments on videos.

  For Alexandra Dobrynina, from Russia, China is happiness. She has managed to find a group of like-minded friends in Wenzhou, who have been traveling across China and documenting local customs along the way with their cameras, and sharing Chinese people’s graciousness with the world.

  In Wenzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province, a group of international friends who have been living and studying in the city are telling the world the stories of Wenzhou, Zhejiang and China to a global audience via the internet and social media. Figures show Wenzhou now has more than 80 “international live streamers”, whose social media posts, videos and vlogs have reached hundreds of millions of people.

●2019年,国际友人一起参加“与世界握手‘I Love Wenzhou’”主题活动。

  “We want more people to fall in love with China, or at least would like them to know a real China,” many of them have said. These foreign influencers are also known by another title — “overseas communication officers”.

  In 2016, to let 700,000 people of Wenzhou origin in over 130 countries and regions know their hometown, the local government in Wenzhou invited more than 60 overseas Chinese to become the “overseas communication officers” and help disseminate Wenzhou culture and tell the stories of its. Later, a number of foreigners in Wenzhou were invited to join in as well. In 2018, the Wenzhou Overseas Communication Center, a nonprofit organization, was established. So far, the center has a 300-strong team of overseas communication officers, including more than 80 foreigners.

  “They hail from more than 20 countries and regions, including Spain, the UK and South Africa, and come from different walks of life — students, teachers, businessmen, company employees, among others.” according to Xu Penghuai, who is in charge of the center. “They have a fairly good understanding of China and are an important bridge between China and the rest of the world.”

  In 2003, the then 17-year-old Sumayyah Hosany came to Zhejiang to pursue further studies, and she is currently a surgeon at Wenzhou Panhealth Medical Center. At the height of the COVID-19 epidemic in February 2020, she worked as a volunteer at one exit of the expressway every day to conduct quarantine checks on passing vehicles.

  Having witnessed the professionalism and efficiency in China’s fight against the virus, Hosnay started to take short videos explaining China’s prevention and control practice and policies. “Whatever your opinions on China, you should first see what this country is like, and listen to the Chinese people,” she said.

●2020年8月,多位海外传播官打卡温州五马街,并在现场表演节目。温州市海外传播中心/供图

  Because of COVID-19, Hosnay and her fiancé were unable to return to Mauritius for their wedding. In December 2020, the Overseas Communication Center specially invited them for a special wedding experience in the local ethnic She township, during which they donned ethnic costumes and rode the traditional sedan chair.

  “China respects different languages and cultures and is very inclusive,” said Hosnay. “The government cares about the ethnic minorities and support the preservation of their culture and traditions,” concurred his fiancé Hamad Abdul Zahir, who is from Pakistan. “This is the fact we see.”

  When Alexandra Dobrynina arrived in 2017 to start up a business, she knew almost nobody. Then she joined a running club and found true friendship. “I saw people’s eagerness to communicate,” she said. She is sharing her journey so that the world could feel the warmth and energy of the people she has met along the way, and she hopes to show this is what it’s really like to live in China.

  In 2019, Ergashev Akmal came to Wenzhou for his graduate studies and fell in love with the city. He takes videos of him traveling around the city. “Now my family and friends urge me to update my vlog every day,” he said. “My daily life and that of people like me are the best China story.”

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