A useful gap year

Two journalism graduates take a break from their studies to make a documentary on people-to-people links with Malaysia, Wang Ru reports.

Hu Yuanjing, who took a gap year during her postgraduate studies, was a little surprised to find that the Malaysian Chinese and the Chinese share a similar tradition when it comes to not wasting food.

“In China we are told from childhood that we should not waste food, and a ‘clearing the plate’ campaign was started in China several years ago to tell people not to waste food. In Malaysia it is a tradition to show gratitude to ancestors who struggled to lay the foundation for their offspring to succeed,” says Hu, who explored relations between China and Malaysia in July when she was making a documentary entitled Multi-Cultures Intertwined in Harmony, with her friend Wang Zehua, both 25 years old.

The documentary was premiered at a cafe in Peking University on Sept 11, to commemorate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The documentary was made with support from the Peking University Alumni Association of Malaysia, an organization which aims to promote communication between college students and young professionals of the two countries. Hu and Wang are both alumni of Peking University’s school of journalism and communication.

Around 50 people attended the premiere, and sampled traditional Malaysian food while watching the documentary. The documentary is now available on YouTube and Tencent with both Chinese and English subtitles.

The 20-minute documentary, based on personal experiences of three generations of the two peoples, has three parts. The first part is about people who witnessed or contributed to establishing the diplomatic relationship in 1974. Initially the ties were only at the government level, with few people-to-people contacts, Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, president of the Malaysia-China Friendship Association, says in the documentary. The former Malaysian ambassador to China says when the reform and opening-up was just beginning in China in the late 1970s, there was caution for investment from Malaysian businessmen at the start, although the two countries had established ties and China was seeking foreign investment. The contacts between the two countries then were chiefly at the political level.

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