The TYS ASEAN China Youth Forum jointly organised by The Young SEAkers and Tsinghua University's Student Association of Belt and Road Initiative was successfully held from 15-16 September 2020. The forum focuses on the ASEAN-China youths’ perspectives and is an important part of Business China’s FutureChina Global Forum 2020 (Special Virtual Edition). The two-day forum attracted nearly 80 youth representatives from China and ASEAN countries such as Singapore, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Mr Brian Liu, Board Member, National Youth Council Singapore; Senior Vice President (People) - Organization, Talent & Development, Lazada Group marked the opening address. He encouraged youths to pick up fresh skills, meet new people and engage in novel experiences during this period. Ms Wang Hongliu, Director of General Office at the ASEAN-China Center at Beijing was also the opening speaker, she said that the young people of China and ASEAN play an important role in fighting Covid-19, as they are the new driving force for cooperation between the countries under the new normal. Both Mr Liu and Ms Wang urged the young to “learn and adapt fast; think big and be bold”. Ms Liu also shared “Under the new normal, young people are the new driving force for cooperation between ASEAN and China, and they inject vitality into the economy”.
Other panellists, comprising Mr Chan Yong, an associate at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ms Alina Chua, an investment analyst at GGV Capital, Mr Yu Zhou, a volunteer with the United Nations Development Programme and a youth representative of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and Mr Li Bolun, co-founder of Development Innovation Insider, agreed that now is the time to form bridges across borders, to work together to combat the pandemic and create new opportunities.
Moderator Ms Lee Zi Xin, a member of Business China Youth Chapter and co-founder of the TYS, wrapped up the 90-minute discussion on an encouraging note. “Young people always have this one thing in mind, ‘How can we change the world?’” she said. “With a black swan event like Covid-19, they can either become disillusioned at their job prospects; or they can organise themselves, do good and learn from one another, and find opportunities that arise even in this situation.”
The second Youth Forum themed, “Post-COVID-19 Opportunities and Insights from the Lenses of University Students in ASEAN and China”, was moderated by Mr Calvin Wee, member of Business China Youth Chapter and co-Founder of TYS. The panel started with an insightful opening address by Dr Choltis Dhirathiti, Executive Director of the ASEAN University Network (AUN), who encouraged the youth participants to think about the concept of nation building and what they can do amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
They explored various topics such as how university students navigate the new normal, the challenges they faced when studying remotely during the pandemic, and their views on the future of work. Questions on how youths of Southeast Asia and China can collaborate on projects of common interest, and views on ASEAN-China relations post-COVID-19 were discussed.
The roundtable discussion was led by four panellists, Mr Lim Chhay, Mr Zachary Zhang, Mr Li Jiaqi, and Mr Chen Ruoxiao. The speakers are undergraduates and post-graduate from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Fudan University, Tsinghua University and SAIS-Tsinghua Dual Master Degree programme respectively.
The panellists discussed about the importance of staying agile in order to adapt quickly to the changing environment and technology. One of the examples raised was the need for educators to adapt fast enough to leverage technology to teach better. Through using platforms such as online webinars and conferences, collaboration has also become one of the key aspects to bring talents together globally. The new work culture enables youths from different countries to come together to communicate and contribute to projects of common interest.
The impact of COVID-19 on youths was also discussed during the Q&A segment. The panellists shared that while COVID-19 presented challenges in terms of affecting the time they spent with their family, friends and on self-development, many of them also found the opportunities to re-discover their interests which allowed them to develop new skills and strengths.
Concluding the session, Mr Zachary Zhang shared his views on how the pandemic have paved new ways of collaborations between ASEAN and China. He also highlighted that it is crucial for youths to remain innovative in keeping Singapore relevant to the new environment and market. Mr Chen Ruoxiao shared that the crisis will further strengthen bilateral relations as we battle the pandemic. The panellists hope that the government will devote more effort in developing youths with new skills to adapt with the fast-changing globalised world. They are hopeful that the relationship between ASEAN and China will remain positive and sustainable despite the global pandemic.
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