From October 8 to 19, the founder teacher of the Science China Corner at St Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, Cospicua, Martin Azzopardi, and student Aidan Schembri, an active Science China Corner student, were invited to partake in a two-week cultural programme in China and represent their school and country in the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing. The student’s father accompanied the delegation.
In August 2022, Azzopardi received a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who commended the hard work in the Science China Corner while encouraging more educational cultural exchanges between Malta and China.
Representatives from Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, Chad, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Brazil also took part in the cultural programme. The head of the delegation was Yahaya Esmail Nawanda, who serves as a regional commissioner of Simiyu in Tanzania.
Throughout the two-week programme, the delegation visited historical places and experienced some green and sustainable projects in different places like Liangjiahe village in Yan’an, Shanghai, Anji county in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, Ningde city in Fuzhou, Zhengding county in Shijiazhuang and Beijing.
“This fantastic experience was a unique opportunity to represent our school and country amongst other country nationals in China. During this two-week cultural programme we built many new friendship ties and experienced many green development projects in different provinces in China which aim to prioritise sustainability and have a zero carbon objective,” Azzopardi said.
He said that, however, the climax of the programme was the participation in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing where President Xi Jinping delivered a speech.
“We experienced many green development projects in different provinces in China which aim to prioritise sustainability and have a zero carbon objective”
The forum was attended by over 10,000 registered representatives from 151 countries and 41 international organisations. Through this forum, China released 89 multilateral cooperation documents and 369 concrete outcomes.
Azzopardi added: “From what we could see and experience, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is evolving towards more sustainable and technologically advanced initiatives, transitioning from large-scale projects such as constructing dams, to focus on digital finance and e-commerce systems.”
Azzopardi added that he was inspired by Wu Jian from the Huzhou Foreign Affairs Office to launch new sustainable and zero carbon projects in the Science China Corner.
Student Schembri said that he learnt “a big lesson of diplomacy” from the forum, where he enhanced his “multicultural spirit and also my love for China and the Chinese people”.
The Maltese delegation’s participation was made possible thanks to the Chinese Embassy in Malta, the Ministry of Education of Malta, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the hosting entity that planned the two-week BRI programme in China.