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What We Will Surprise China with: Discussion at the House of Journalists

Alexander Khodachek, President of HSE University-St Petersburg, participated in the discussion of the city's technological capabilities in terms of building relations between Russia and China. The experts are sure that the future of various fields is in the hands of young professionals who know the Chinese language and culture.

Alexander Seleznev and Alexander Khodachek

Alexander Seleznev and Alexander Khodachek
© The House of Journalists

Within the series of meetings 'St Petersburg: Science and Industry', the House of Journalists held the discussion 'Petersburg—Window to the West, Outlook to the East. Technological Capabilities of the Northern Capital. What We Will Surprise China with' with the representatives of the city business, authorities and education community. The Chinese side was represented by Chen Zhigang, General Director of 'Russian-Chinese Business Park', President of IBT Group and Chairman of the Chinese society in St Petersburg.

Alexander Khodachek, Moderator and Participant of the Discussion, President of HSE University-St Petersburg, highlighted that it was not a question of surprising China, but finding spheres and fields where our countries have a mutual interest from the point of view of positioning in the international arena and ensuring the maximum efficiency of bilateral cooperation.

In experts' opinion, an indispensable condition of the successful cooperation in various fields is the training of the industry specialists who know the Chinese language and culture, which ensures efficient intercultural communication. Tatyana Urzhumtseva, Director of the Scientific and Educational Center for the Study of China and Asian-Pacific Region Countries, St Petersburg State Economic University, Executive Director of the association 'Chinese Business Centre', drew attention to the fact that Chinese business' speed of decision-making depends on the interest, so we need the high level of elaboration of Russian proposal by the Chinese partners. She underscored that in this context, the most important university work direction became creating the demand for the sinologists in the companies which would like to cooperate effectively with the Chinese business.

This idea is supported by Ekaterina Lebedeva, Vice-President of the St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She highlighted the importance of the joint work of the universities and business because it is hard for business, which is refocusing on new markets, to identify the requirements to a potential specialist, except the knowledge of the Chinese language.

Alexander Khodachek is sure that a good tool for it might be project fairs at universities which would help both to give an opportunity to get necessary skills and to build logistics chains of interaction between universities and business as well as between Russian and Chinese business.

Alexander Khodachek, President of HSE University-St Petersburg

We need a Project Fair organised by the enterprises which are eager to work with China and should be chosen by an educational institution which trains experts in Asian and African Studies, in particular, experts in Chinese language and culture—this includes economists, area studies specialists, linguists and others. Then already at the first stage—literally starting from the 1-2nd year of studies—there will be the symbiosis of education and practice. For its part, China will be able to follow the trends of this interaction closely to understand what St Petersburg will offer in the long run and build the logistics chains.

Among other things, this mechanism may provide the leadership of St Petersburg in the context of industrial development and establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships because traditionally, the city has a very strong education in Asian and African Studies. In terms of the number of graduated specialists, St Petersburg is ahead of Moscow. At HSE University-St Petersburg, for several years in a row, there is a consistently high competition for the programmes training specialists who focus on China and the Chinese language. We have strong academic ties with a number of Chinese universities, including the Shanghai University, which occupies high positions in the international rankings almost in every area of scientific and educational activities. The contacts which were interrupted by the pandemic are gradually resumed as well as the academic mobility.

We should note that in terms of staff training on the city level, there is another important work direction—training of the specialists for the collaborative development and use of the Arctic zone. So today, our discussion is just a single step of a thousand miles journey, as our Chinese partners say.

The discussion participants emphasised a huge potential of the bilateral cooperation and flexibility of the universities which are ready, on the one hand, to consider and, on the other hand, form business requests and train specialists to them.

Media project 'Journalists discussion club—the House of Journalists 'Nevsky, 70' on the topic 'St Petersburg: Science and Industry' is implemented in St Petersburg by the St Petersburg branch of the Russian Union of Journalists in partnership with HSE University-St Petersburg with the support of the Presidential Grants Foundation, the city authorities and the St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Read about the launch of the project here.