Young expats’ choices for China’s ‘modern Four Great Inventions’

While China’s ancient Four Great Inventions include paper-making, printing techniques, gunpowder and the compass, in a recent street interview, young foreigners from around 20 countries were asked to name four modern great inventions in China.

Here’s what they said.

No. 1 is the high-speed train.

High-speed rail (HSR) in China is the longest HSR system in the world extending to over 100 cities in the country's 33 provinces.

HSR service in China was introduced in April , 2007 and has become immensely popular with an annual ridership of over 1.44 billion in 2016, making the Chinese HSR network the most heavily used in the world.

Notable lines include the world's longest line, the 2,298 km Beijing–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway and the Shanghai Maglev, the world's first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation line and the only non-conventional track line of the network.

“China’s trains are very clean, comfortable and cheap,” one of the foreign interviewees said in a video clip spread on the Internet this week.

A trip which takes 14 hours by car  only takes 5 hours by the train, another said as shown in the video.

No. 2 is Alipay.

Alipay is China's leading third-party online payment platform, developed by China's tech giant Alibaba owned by Jack Ma.

According to a recent survey by China Channel, only 11 percent payments are done by cash in China.

Alipay's biggest competitor is WeChat payment platform which is owned by another Chinese tech giant Tencent Group.

 “Alipay is really helpful,” said Nabina who comes from Nepal.

“You only need to take a phone with you when go outside,” said an Egyptian interviewee.

The third one is shared bikes.

The trend of shared bikes started from some big cities like Beijing and Shanghai in 2016 led by China’s two largest shared bike companies, ofo and Mobike.

The bikes are aimed at commuters who need “last-mile” transportation to travel short distances from subway or bus stations. People use a smartphone app to unlock a GPS-equipped bike from a parking spot and ride them as far as they want, for about 1 yuan ($0.15) for every 30-minute ride, and park them in designated areas.

“I love it. It saves me a lot of time,” one interviewee said in the video clip.

No. 4 is online shopping.

The trend of online shopping started in China from the first few years of the 21st century led by popular Chinese online shops like Dangdang, Amazon China, and Taobao. The most popular online shopping platform so far is Taobao, which is also owned by Jack Ma's Alibaba Group.

It is estimated that there were over 410 million people in China shopping online in 2015.

The survey was done by the Silk Road Research Institute of Beijing and Foreign Studies University ahead of the Belt and Road Forum on May 14 and 15 in Beijing. And the young people surveyed are from 20 countries alongside the routes of the Belt and Road.

The Belt and Road Forum is a high-profile international meeting aimed at discussing the issues relating to the Belt and Road Initiative, a China-proposed trade and infrastructure plan connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.

According to the video clip, interviewees also mentioned other things made in China that they think are great, such as infrastructure, tea culture, take-away, 4G, WeChat, Chinese movies and Kung fu, and Lao Gan Ma (chili crisp sauce).

“I’m fascinated by ancient China’s Four Great Inventions. China is developing very fast and has already developed four new technologies,” said Peter who comes from Romania.

Justin who comes from Indonesia chooses, an online meal-ordering platform.

An interviewee says Chinese tea is good for health.

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