Ten foreign experts were given a friendship award by Hefei local government on Wednesday for their contribution to the city's fast and prosperous development.
The third Hefei Friendship Award for Foreign Experts recognized experts from Germany, Russia, Australia, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and Costa Rica for their remarkable contributions to the capital city of Anhui province, providing important talent and intellectual support to build an innovative city with international influence.
The winner list includes Berdi Hakan Bulak, an auto quality expert from Daimler Greater China; Claus Thomas Weise, an artificial intelligence basic researcher with Hefei University; Grigory Shirkov, an expert dedicated to superconducting cyclotron for proton therapy medical equipment; Yang Nan, chief scientist of Anhui Anke Biotechnology Group who works on cancer and gene research; Lee Ho Young, an OLED expert with Sineva's Hefei branch; Zachary James Smith, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China who develops medical technologies and solutions; Kim Sang Jin, a TFT-LCD expert of Hefei BOE; Kim Chee Young, a Midea refrigerators safety and quality control expert; Takashi Ichimori, an expert from Fuhuang Group on image and video analysis and processing technologies and chips; and Io Kai Vong Leong, chairman of JH Biotech, Costa Rica, who promotes agriculture and horticulture technologies cooperation between China and Costa Rica.
Luo Ping, secretary-general of the Hefei municipal government, presided over the award ceremony. He pointed out that talents are a strategic resource to achieve national rejuvenation and win international competitions. The Hefei Friendship Award for Foreign Experts demonstrates the city's adherence to strengthening itself via actively recruiting talents from all over the world.
Since the Hefei Friendship Award for Foreign Experts was launched, a total of 30 foreign experts have been awarded the prize.
As of 2017, Hefei had ranked in the top six "Amazing China: Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Foreigners," a survey conducted by the Information and Research Center of the Foreign Talents of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and the magazine of International Talent Exchange, for three consecutive years. From 2016 to 2020, a total of nine foreign experts working in Hefei were selected to enter the key talent introduction program of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. Meanwhile, 100 foreign experts in Hefei have been selected for Anhui province's key talent introduction program, with a total of 13 experts having won the Chinese Government Friendship Award and 62 having won the provincial Huangshan Friendship Award. These imported foreign talents have played an active role in promoting key technological research, management model innovation, enterprise and industrial upgrading and development, and cultural and educational quality improvement.
"I've lived in Hefei for the last two years, since January 2019. I must say I'm extremely impressed with the way that this region is being improved," said award winner Berdi Hakan Bulak at a discussion and exchange symposium following the event. "We can tell you a lot, we can show a lot of ideas [as foreign experts in China], but the important thing is that China does not lose its character and its tradition."
He added, "Any country, any society needs its roots and its long history and you have a history which you can be very proud of. We should find a good combination of modern thinking and modern ideas but keep the traditions which made this country so big. This is a beneficial way to combine ideas and cultures. This will bring success to China and to this region."
Another laureate, Thomas Weise, recalled, "Before finishing my PhD in Germany in 2009, I was looking for international research groups working in my field. The most interesting one was located here in Hefei. Some senior colleagues in my German university actually advised against coming here. They said: 'Do not go to China. It will not be good for your scientific career.' I did not listen and I am happy that I did not listen."
"Here in Hefei, I found a very nice, open, and dynamic environment as well as great institutional support. Outstanding research was done in Hefei in my field of science. This was a good chance to learn from excellent scientists. For a decade, I have seen how Hefei has constantly grown, developed, and improved. I think that science and research had a major impact on this development," Weisse said.
He added that even hard times and challenges will not stop its development. "This year, all of us have faced the coronavirus together. I am happy that me and my family have stayed here in China during this crisis. Here, all levels of governments devised strong and effective measures – based on the advice of scientists – and the people, everyone, implemented them. And that was right. In China, the disease is under control. We can now be here, holding this meeting safely, because of that."
Bjoern Nashan, a world-famous German doctor and medical expert now working in Hefei, attended the symposium and echoed a similar sentiment. "2020 is finally coming to an end, and we have had a very difficult year, an annus horribilis, due to COVID-19. I am very glad that I am in China. China has brought the epidemic under control in a very effective way, using technology based on apps and smartphones in a very short time."
For Nashan, who has lived in the city for three years, "Hefei is a hospitable city, and every time I am back here, it feels like home. Living and working in Hefei feels quite relaxed and comfortable — it's a well-organized city. Here, I can see amazing growth that makes people from outside astonished."
Nashan also added, "No matter whether it's COVID-19, climate change, or economic demands, our generation faces common challenges. No single country can fix them alone. The only way to deal with them is to work together. I hope that each of our foreign experts can become a bridge to link China with other countries. Through us, we can strengthen relations in all ways of life on the basis of mutual benefit and respect among nations. This is a new era of mutual benefit and win-win results. To achieve the prosperity and opportunity we seek, we must focus on our common humanity and work together toward our common goals."