Xiamen counts down to BRICS Summit
A volunteer guides passengers at Xiamen Railway Station in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province.
by Ma Yujie, Fu Min, Peng Peigen
Chen Mi has been learning how to stand properly all afternoon.
She and hundreds of others practice standing and bowing, the gestures broken down into slow motion with painstaking detail. Many have sore muscles after the three-hour class.
Chen, a sophomore translation major at Jimei University, is being trained by veteran flight attendants for the upcoming BRICS Summit, scheduled for Sept. 3 to 5 in Xiamen, a coastal city in southeastern China's Fujian Province,
"Our feet ache a lot after standing still for just over 10 minutes, but we are young and can recover the next day," Chen said.
Volunteers pose for a group photo at a volunteer service station at a railway station in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province.
In addition to etiquette, the volunteers also learn first aid, foreign languages, and cultural training to better serve guests from the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
"Each of the BRICS countries has a distinct culture, and we hope the volunteers here can get more comprehensive, customized training rather than just simple physical training," said Zhang Xin, chief attendant at Xiamen Airlines.
Preparations are in full swing one month ahead of the Ninth BRICS Summit, expected to attract thousands of representatives from China and abroad.
A total of 2,000 volunteers are undergoing two months of training, while construction crews race against the clock to complete facilities.
A 15,000-square-meter media center is almost ready, with 15 functional spaces including studios, a public work area, as well as a 24-hour canteen.
Renovation work on the city's arterial roads and some parks is also under way.
The city's old asphalt roads are worn and pose potential safety risks, so the local government is replacing them with environmentally friendly, noise-reduction materials to enhance safety and ride comfort.
Bailuzhou Park in downtown Xiamen has built a 3D music fountain with more than 1,000 LED lights, which has become the new after-dinner gathering spot for locals.
Volunteer Liu Hongyan (1st L) introduces main scenic spots of the city to tourists at Xiamen Railway Station in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province.
Chen Yuqing, 63, observed the changes in her home city.
"I go to Bailuzhou Park every day. The lake view under the neon light is especially fascinating," she said. "I am proud of being a Xiamen resident and hope I can do more to make the city more beautiful."
"The city has taken on a new look since the renovation work. It is comfortable driving on the new roads," said local resident Lin Huaming.
Work for the upcoming summit has been carried out with high standards and at low cost to eliminate waste. To save on costs, the city government has used recycled materials to build the convention center and will rent or borrow one-off equipment for the summit. Some of the facilities at the convention center can be disassembled for future use on other occasions.
For Xiamen, which was established as one of China's earliest special economic zones in the early 1980s, the BRICS Summit is a golden opportunity for the world to rediscover the city's glory.
A manager (1st R) assigns tasks at a volunteer service station in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province.
"Our GDP grew by 8.1 percent in the first quarter, 0.2 percentage higher than the same period last year.
Benefiting from the summit, the total number of tourists to Xiamen is expected to exceed 70 million this year.
"Xiamen's image and reputation will definitely be improved through the summit," said Pei Jinjia, Xiamen's party secretary at a BRICS Summit press briefing marking the 100-day countdown to the event in May.
(Photos credit: Wei Peiquan)
(Editor: Ji Xiang)