Where ideas become reality
CIFTIS makes a global impact
By Zoon Ahmed Khan  ·  2022-09-13  ·   Source: NO.37 SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

When I moved to Beijing in 2015, what drew me toward China was a determination to understand the Belt and Road Initiative and the impact China's experience and enhancing role in multilateralism can play globally. I am among the hundreds of thousands who have been inspired by China's unprecedented growth and contributions to global governance and multilateralism. However, a few questions arise: How does the initiative create impact? What is happening, on the ground, to bring diverse perspectives together, and induce practical conversations?

The China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) is one answer. This year, I had the privilege to attend the fair as a delegate of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue (GYLD) program, which is a professional development platform for young achievers jointly initiated by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies.

In a nutshell, the CIFTIS is an opportunity for global thinkers, policymakers, businesses and beyond to engage in dialogue, experience cultures and share ideas from around the world, creating space for deeper connectivity.

For instance, the GYLD delegation I was a part of was able to deep-dive into the work of publishing houses and their cultural products while learning how to incorporate unique cultural heritages into real and effective experiences. A simple example is that of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) fans, a fascinating and world-renowned heritage. We were able to make our own fans, thus adding to the enthusiasm

one can experience, and learned about the unique heritage as well as how to promote businesses that celebrate heritage and generate jobs. Similarly, at the China International Communications Group (CICG) exhibit, we were able to learn about new ways in which we can jointly publish books from China in our home countries and vice versa.

The two key takeaways from these two simple yet impactful experiences were that, firstly, many developing countries can learn similar effective ways to make their cultural products more appealing, while promoting them to a global market. And secondly, in a place as diverse, dynamic and well-organized as the CIFTIS, new collaborations become the rule, not the exception. Showcasing one's work at an exhibition that represents a diverse range of sectors and economies builds our collective potential to enhance the connectivity we find ourselves pursuing. Deeper discussions with some of the sellers and exhibits from other countries also helped us to understand the opportunity that the CIFTIS brings to them and their countries. This is the real impact we talk about, and platforms especially like this are an epitome of how to achieve it.

This year's CIFTIS took place in Beijing's Shougang Park and the China National Convention Center, with exhibits in the latter more broadly focusing on dialogue, policymaking and global governance. This is the venue where we, the GYLD delegates, also participated in the China Inbound-Outbound Forum, powered by the CCG. Here, young professionals' perspectives on policies, especially the Beijing "Two-Zones," referring to Beijing's efforts to become a pilot free trade zone and the national integrated demonstration zone for expanding opening up in the service sector, were discussed, as well as how participants had been able to overcome recent challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new opportunities that have emerged in their respective sectors. Sharing the platform with senior diplomats, scholars and business leaders, the GYLD delegates represented a new kind of inclusion that is increasingly becoming mainstream in China. One thread all our panelists on the GYLD Talk Show, from Asia, Africa and Europe, shared was the immense value their experiences in China were adding, by allowing them to impart dynamism, forward-looking strategies, and improved collaboration between their countries, China and beyond. And this, for me, is what the CIFTIS represents. A space to synergize, to expand horizons, and to help people from China and other countries, tangibly and inclusively.

I hope I can have the privilege to participate again, gain exposure to new ideas, and even more I am confident that more countries and international organizations will increase their participation in and contribution to the CIFTIS. Because inclusivity across cultures and continents, as well as across generations, will allow us to address the issues that affect humankind, and build opportunities for sustainable and lasting development. 

The author is a research fellow with the Belt and Road Institute at Tsinghua University

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

Comments to zhaowei@cicgamericas.com

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