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China: online Greater Bay Area course launched

Guangzhou’s South China University of Technology has launched a three-week course on emerging technologies in the Greater Bay Area, with more than 150 students from 28 countries filling virtual seats.

In lectures lasting one hour or less, students learnt about Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China’s first tier cities, as well as about the current policy situation of the GBA. Photo: pixabay

SCUT and Greater Bay Academy had hoped to host the first cohort of international students in China during 2020

Partner organisation, Greater Bay Academy, provides the academic component of the program, which centres on technologies like artificial intelligence, e-commerce and blockchain as well as infrastructure-themed lessons on smart cities and mobility in the Greater Bay Area.

As Southern China’s economic hub, GBA is home to many iconic and innovative companies like Tencent, Huawei and DJI and has an annual GDP of nearly US$1.7 trillion.

Its transportation system interconnects 86 million people across Hong Kong, Macau, and nine metropolises in Guangdong Province, making the area larger than counterpart bay areas of Tokyo, New York City and San Francisco.

“The Greater Bay Area is where much of the future focus is now”

“Usually people defer to Beijing or Shanghai to learn about contemporary China,” said Philippe Werner-Wildner, a Chilean professor who initially proposed the basis of a GBA-themed program in 2019.

“The Greater Bay Area is where much of the future focus is now.”

Jon Santangelo, founder of Greater Bay Academy, who designed the course curriculum alongside SCUT, added that the program is “centred around Chinese innovation with the GBA as the backdrop”.

“We’re honoured to partner with SCUT as it is a top-ranking university that is well regarded in China,” Santangelo said.

The first GBA ‘Chinese Bridge’ program was launched online in October, covering cultural lessons on Eastern-Western business practices, traditional Chinese customs, as well as Mandarin-language classes.

“They enjoy learning about daily life in GBA, from ‘Stories of everyday life in the Bay Area’ virtually tasting ‘three meals in one day’, all while learning ‘Bay Area Speed’,” said Jane Lyu, a program manager at SCUT’s admission office.

SCUT and Greater Bay Academy had hoped to host the first cohort of international students in 2020 in Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, which was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Graduates of the online course hope to travel to China when travel restrictions allow, organisers said.

The Passengers has been working to promote internships and study programs focused on innovation between Chile and Hong Kong, its founder Macarena Millan said. It has now introduced the GBA Online Program to dozens of Chileans and Peruvians who were first to enrol.

“The Greater Bay Area is rapidly growing in interest, not only in Chile, but in South America,” Millan added.

“After completing the course students expressed satisfaction, and now they feel a greater attraction for the tech and entrepreneurship Chinese scene.”

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