Photo taken from Shanghai Tower on July 22, 2014 shows a view of downtown Shanghai, east China. Shanghai Tower, a megamall skyscraper under construction, stands approximately 632 meters high and has 128 stories, with a total floor area of 380,000 square meters. (Xinhua/Huang Weiguo)
by Tian Ying
BERLIN, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- When Wang Xiongshi, a Chinese doctorate student, returned to China after two years, he found changes and development so astonishing that he risked falling behind.
"It surprised me that sharing bikes and mobile payment are readily available," said Wang, who studied automobile engineering in the Technology University of Berlin.
He said a tour visit to start-up parks and incubators in several cities, organized by the Chinese Communist Youth League for Chinese overseas students, also impressed him with its enabling environment for entrepreneurship.
Wang is not alone in such a "homecoming shock." It's a consensus among Chinese students in Germany that gaps between China and developed countries are narrowing. China's rapid catching-up has brought them confidence, and above all, more opportunities both academically and professionally.
Chen Cheng, a doctorate student in ecological economics with Berlin-based Humboldt University, said: "Nowadays what you can find here also exists in China's big cities. Therefore, the shock sustained by Chinese overseas students, resulting from differences in cultural and recreational activities or lifestyle, is no longer pronounced as it was years ago."
On the other hand, it is in Germany that Chen felt changes come a bit too slow. "The use of PayPal is still not very convenient here, and I think Chinese respond faster to new things," Chen said.
"China turns different each time I go back home, but here seldom anything changes during my four-year stay. China is catching up at an enormous speed," said the student, adding "We feel more confident than never before."
Apart from confidence, China's rapid development and rising international standing have brought tangible benefits for overseas students in Germany.
"Since the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement and China became a leading player in the battle against climate change, many countries are eager to cooperate with China," Chen said, explaining how his research in the climate field is benefiting from such a development.
Increasing cooperation between Chinese and German researchers affords Chinese students greater opportunities. Chen cited a project jointly led by China's National Natural Science Foundation and German Research Foundation, which is open to scientists from both countries, as an example.
The project attaches great importance to climate and environment researches, and Chinese doctorate and post-doctorate students in Germany take it as a good opportunity to pursue their academic goals, Chen said.
Moreover, an increasing number of Chinese enterprises are going global, some taking over foreign companies. Chinese home appliance giant Midea Group's purchase of German robotics firm Kuka, for example, brought employment opportunities to Chinese students in Germany as they are valued for their local know-how and language competencies.
Lu Xiaozheng, head of Chinese student association in Technology University of Berlin, noticed a marked increase in the number of job fairs jointly organized by her association and Chinese enterprises engaged in bilateral trade and businesses in recent years.
Besides, German companies and other Germany-based foreign companies are more likely to hire Chinese students to expand their China businesses, Lu said.
Economic growth also means better job opportunities back home. Wang Xiongshi said as many Chinese enterprises excel in new-energy vehicles, there are a great deal of employers he can choose from if he returns home.
For Chen, he said "there's never been a greater time than today for overseas students to return to the homeland", explaining that the country offers various programs such as the "1,000-Talent Program" to attract overseas researchers back home.
Besides, various localities are jostling for talent. "As long as you are truly competent, there will be a stage for you to shine in China," Chen said.