Scotland/China news

SCA at the Guangdong Public Diplomacy Week

By Ken Currie and Mike Nelson

The SCA were represented at the 2016 Guangdong Public Diplomacy Week and the 3rd Maritime Silk Road International Expo (23rd – 29th October 2016) By Janice Dickson, Mike Nelson, Ken Currie and Youling Sun – an event organized by the Guangdong People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (GPAFFC). The first thing to report was the extremely impressive level of organization and hospitality received. It was altogether very impressive.

A fairly full schedule of events had been planned, including:

  • A symposium on 60 years of the GPAFFC: History and visions
  • The opening of the ‘Overseas Splendors’: paintings by Guangdong Artists
  • Innovations in Science and Technology: Corporate development forum
  • Guangzhou city tour
  • Visit to the Nansha Free Trade Zone & tour of Dongguan
  • The Maritime Silk Road International Expo
  • Cultural day: visits to Nanshe Village, Weimei Ceramics Workshop, and Keyuan Gardens

    Sun October 23

    Leaving Beijing at 5°C, later the same day in Guangzhou it was 30°.

    From our first arrival in Guangzhou, the hospitality that the GPAFFC showed us was excellent and generous and continued to be so throughout the 6 days of our stay. The hotels were splendid, the food was superb, especially the seafood and of huge variety.

    Mon October 24


    A symposium on 60 years of the GPAFFC: History and visions

    Welcome speeches, and delegates' speeches. All were enthusiastic, but Janice’s was the only one with significant content, even though it was briefer than most. So many delegates wanted to speak that some were inevitably disappointed. The translators also did a great job.

    Afternoon: Panel II

    People-to-people exchanges and roles of friendship associations. MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding)


    Welcoming Reception H.E. Mr. Wang Rong (Chairman of CPPCC Guangdong Committee and President of the Guangdong Public Diplomacy Association) met with the presidents and chairmen of the foreign friendship associations.
    At the dinner we were treated to the chef’s noodle dance (video). Noodles over 5 metres long! They never touched the floor!

    Tues October 25


    Innovations in Science and Technology Forum

    We attended ‘The Innovation in Science and Technology for Corporate Development Forum’, part of the 2016 Guangdong Public Diplomacy Week.

    The forum had lined up an interesting range of industry speakers, which was then followed by an impressive group discussion with younger entrepreneurs in technology start-ups. As at the Symposium on the opening day the simultaneous translations were excellent, though some newer technical terms were understandably hard to translate, and this ensured that we could fully follow and be involved in the presentations and discussions of this forum.

    There were a range of sectors and companies represented, including:

    • BGI: a genomic research organisation
    • CISCO: the communications leader with seven centres in China
    • IBM: the computing giant with a 30 year presence in China
    • BDWise: a Chinese navigation systems company
    • Hitachi: who have 47,000 Chinese employees and 180 subsidiaries
    • Zhuhai: a specialist in unmanned surface vehicles.
    See further report and photos here.


    Opening of Photo Exhibition: Guangdong in the Eyes of Chinese and Brazilian Artists
    Painting Exhibition: The World touched by the Brush, paintings by artists in Guangdong

    An exhibition of many paintings depicting scenes from all over the world. Very impressive technique shown and some of the artists were there in person.

    Guangdong Museum.  
    This included five exhibitions: Guangdong Hisotry and culture; Natural Ressources in Guangdong (including many kinds of crystals, minerals such as Malachite, Jade, some amazing and beautiful stones); Pottery and Porcelain; Duan Inkstone; Chaozhou Woodcarving (Intricate carved wooden pieces, gilt-covered or lacquered,). There were also carved ivory balls within balls, up to 20 levels deep.


    The Public Diplomacy Night: Acrobatic Drama - The Legendary Swordsmen

    An adapation of the original novel by Mr Louis Cha. A superb performance combining dance, acrobatics, wire-flying and drama. Some parts were like watching excerpts from ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ live on a stage, but with more acrobatic skills; a highlight of our visit.

    Wed October 26


    Excursion to China (Guangdong) Free Trade Zone, a massive container port. As I recall there were four berths for the biggest container ships, each with about six container cranes. The rate at which containers were being unloaded, as if they were matchboxes, was astounding.
    Lunch at Sunflower Hotel.


    Across the Pearl River Delta to Dongguan. We must have crossed a thousand bridges. Perhaps it is not yet the planned megacity, but the cities are growing organically into one another. Still, the PRD has become the largest urban area in the world in both size and population, according to the World Bank Group.

     Populations are:  
    Guangzhou 12,700,800
    Dongguan 8,220,237
    Foshan 7,194,311
    Shenzhen 10,357,938
    And then there’s HK!

    Thursday October 27

    Third session of Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo (Opening ceremony, the Expo and forums). The main hall housed an exhibition of typical food and agricultural products, along the Maritime Silk Road, including fish! Other exhibitions were of tea (dozens of stands), silk, ceramics.

    Friday October 28

    From Dongguan, Visits to Nanshe Village; The Weimei Ceramics Workshop; Keyuan Gardens
    See report here.

    Saturday October 29

    Personal reflections from Mike on the Pearl River Delta (future megacity?), Guangzhou and Dongguan and differences between them.
    Supermarket at Wanda Plaza, Dongguan: Tanks and tanks of live fish, counter after counter of all sorts of fresh veg to be squeezed and sniffed. This was not in a market, not street stalls, not specialist shops but all in one big supermarket with a few clothes, some kitchenware etc .
    Going back to Guangzhou, we get there in plenty of time in spite of the usual traffic, trucks criss-crossing lanes . I got Metro, right in to the centre. Not seen such crowds since Shanghai on National Day Holiday, but all young people strolling, some shopping. Not a face over 30.
    Guangzhou was not just used to tourists, but particularly the area near the hotel seemed to cater for them. In some respects like Hong Kong and Shanghai, you could see some reminders of the early 20th C with some of the vices (and virtues?) from that period. Dongguan, however, was all recent building, nearly all industrial. Just across the road from the hotel was a street busy until late in the evening but shops and cafés were for workers finishing shifts and local people.
    See official web site at