Global Times: Foreign vloggers in China reveal importance of people-to-people exchanges

Global Times: Foreign vloggers in China reveal importance of people-to-people exchanges

BEIJINGJuly 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Since China optimized its COVID-19 measures at the end of 2022, airports in major cities have become busier day by day as business and tourist trips have quickly resumed. This can be seen on social media, where a lot of foreign online influencers have been sharing videos of their latest trips in China.

As they explore big cities like Shanghai or Hangzhou and scenic spots like the Great Wall or lush mountains, a constant theme in their vlogs is how different the country and its people are from what they thought before arriving here.

“I never thought China would be like this” is a line appearing in almost every foreign newcomer’s vlogs.

Many foreign visitors’ anticipation of what they would get in China was predictably low and their true experience even more contrasting and pleasantly surprising.

Besides the fact that China’s infrastructure never disappoints, including the must-experience high-speed trains, how ordinary Chinese people live their lives and their friendly response to foreigners are particularly interesting to see in these vloggers’ works.

Seeing vloggers comment on the high visibility of electric cars on the streets compared with their home countries, I was reminded how fast China has changed, and that what we take for granted in everyday life may well be a peculiarity for another person.

Among the many foreign backpackers in China, at least three Indian vloggers stand out. They are traveling around the country on different routes and some of their China series videos have gained more than 1 million views on YouTube with 20,000 likes.

China’s infrastructure and especially the cleanliness of the cities shown in the videos have gained the most enthusiastic response from their followers. The Indian vloggers were interested in Wuhan, and one vlogger’s experience of being helped out by a patient staff member at the Xi’an train station gained much applause in the comment section. There is hardly any “negative” experience recorded in their videos, except complaints that not many people speak English when they need help. This only highlights the importance of people-to-people exchanges.

Besides new arrivals, numerous “resident foreigners” in China continue recording their lives and their understanding of China, including those from Vietnam, the UK and the US. A man from Ghana interacts with both Chinese urbanites and villagers and presents their reactions online. His videos showing people’s friendliness and warmth are among the most inspiring and touching videos featuring cultural exchanges between Chinese and Africans.

From a Chinese perspective, an interesting part of foreign visitors’ vlogs is the “culture shock” they experience and – more interestingly – how they perceive and interpret such differences.

Most of the time, the tourists record the encounters and observations of local people and life objectively and try to ­understand them. Although some of their takes on cultural differences may not always be the true situation – like some Chinese people “staring” at a foreigner out of curiosity – experiencing it in an unfamiliar land is in itself a brave and laudable action as long as we all hold goodwill.

I personally want to thank these vloggers for presenting my country as it is – not necessarily flawless – and as I try to see the surroundings I’m in from their fresh perspectives and their approach to an unfamiliar situation, I, too, gain a fresh understanding of my country and people.

Over the one week or so since the Global Times first focused on the influx of foreign backpackers in China – seen in the many vlogs they post on video-sharing platforms – their curiosity and fondness toward this vast and fast-changing country have brought them closer to the borders and deeper into the society.

Their works not only help global audiences have a better glimpse of the real China, but for Chinese viewers it is also refreshing to see the country from a new perspective. Their China videos have attracted more traffic as the videos’ viewership is noticeably bigger than previous works. Some videos have gained 2 million views on YouTube.

During the past week, one of these foreign vloggers delved into the real Chinese countryside and bumped into a Dragon Boat race in East China’s Fujian Province, while another ventured into the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Indeed many foreign netizens are curious about Chinese village life and some netizens left comments under these vloggers’ previous videos, asking them to explore more destinations other than shiny big cities.

One vlogger’s unexpected encounter with a Dragon Boat race in a small village is my personal favorite video. Young locals and elderly villagers crowd along the bank of a small lake cheering for the contestants, while they smile and welcome the stranger apparently from a foreign country. How lucky are these vloggers! Northern folks like myself rarely get to see a dragon boat race in person since they mostly take place in the south.

As seen from his latest videos, one Indian vlogger is still enjoying the food and local people’s hospitality in Kashi, Xinjiang. The guy randomly visited a local resident’s home out of curiosity and received a warm reception. He showed them how to dance like in Bollywood movies and learned a few words in Uygur. As he roams around the old town of Kashi while vlogging among the locals and tourist crowds, any viewer can make a true judgment on what they see.

The people of China welcome anyone to visit the country and have a close-up look at any corner, as long as one maintains an unbiased open attitude.

One vlogger’s venture in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, was simply breathtaking – hiking on the lush southern mountains, at one time crossing a section as if he was hanging on the mountain cliff. I have to admit I haven’t been to that many unique places in China, so the courage of the vlogger has paid off, since the scenery from his vantage point makes it all worthwhile. It must have been this same courage that made these vloggers want to come to see China with their own eyes.

“A lot of people are saying that I am praising China too much. I am praising China so much because I didn’t know China was like this. I was expecting something else. It turned out to be very different,” one vlogger said in a video as he walks along the streets of Hangzhou.

So far, their respective journeys have taken viewers to Dandong, a city bordering North Korea, Kashi in Xinjiang and the Shaolin Temple in Central China, besides the metropolises and tech-hubs like ShenzhenChongqing and Xi’an.

Among all the backpackers in China, why do Indian vloggers stand out in both visibility online and viewership? From my personal experience, Indian travelers in China have a bigger presence on video-sharing platforms and they have larger numbers of followers. As I initially enjoyed watching the videos from three Indian vloggers, the platform continued to present to me more works by other Indian creators on my homepage. So far at least six Indian creators currently touring around China regularly appear on this page.

It’s also because Indian vloggers are enthusiastic and informative, and they narrate a lot while shooting videos, giving a fuller picture of the place they visit and how they feel inside India’s important yet somewhat unfamiliar neighbor.

SOURCE Global Times

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