Sarah Marjorey Kisakye visits Qingdao Port in Shandong Province's coastal city of Qingdao on July 30 (COURTESY PHOTO)
One Ugandan proverb goes: "To travel is to see and to come back is to tell stories." A visit to Qingdao organized by the Global Young Leaders Dialogue, a program launched in Beijing in 2020 that aims to develop a community driving cross-cultural dialogue and communication among global opinion leaders, brought me new insights into this seaside city in Shandong Province bustling with lively energy.
The first thing that stood out for me in Qingdao was the vast, seemingly endless, sea, stretching out under the bridges.
The blue waters proved refreshing to the mind as we made our way along the crisscross roads into downtown Qingdao.
Visiting Qingdao Port, we saw the technological innovations of the fully automated terminal, the first of its kind in Asia, with digitally operated systems ferrying the bulky containers to their next location in the blink of an eye.
"If these containers had to be moved manually, we would only be able to shift about 100 containers a day," a staff member said, explaining to us how the automated mechanism has allowed for more than triple the work efficiency. Qingdao also houses the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area. Seeing the wide-ranging products on display truly tells what nations can achieve by working together.
The area also features the Inter-national Innovation Center for Marine Science and Technology.
Youth from China and the rest of the world are encouraged to partake in educational programs that open up new prospects in the fields of marine conservation and sea monitoring.
Another observation was how accurately Qingdao has preserved its culture. A city with extensive German influence, its 100-year-old architecture still stands tall, convincing younger generations of the importance to protect our historical and cultural assets.
"These villas were once built by the Germans," our tour guide Lily explained as she led us down a street with gigantic villas and castle-like buildings. Their sight attracts crowds of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of the coastal city's unique architecture.
By the seaside, many bask in the summer sun, while others go for a relaxing swim.
"Chairman Mao Zedong once swam in this sea," Lily added. I figured that perhaps could be one reason why so many ventured out here to dive into the salty waters.
But cool seas aside, there's another popular liquid in town: Tsingtao Beer. From roadside restaurants to park benches in the shade; it's everywhere.
At the Tsingtao Beer Museum, tour groups get to learn about the history of the beer and the technological advancements its production process has undergone over the decades. "Every minute, 10 beer containers are made," the museum guide told us.
Learning, as we all know, is a continuous journey. Qingdao's technology companies and innovations can address challenges in day-to-day economic and social development and offer their support in the perpetual quest for modernization.
Departing from Qingdao, I take these observations and lessons with me.
(Print Edition Title: Qingdao Observed)
The author is a Ph.D. student from Uganda currently studying global communication and governance at the Communication University of China
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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