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Russian journalist: Reform, opening-up brings dramatic change, but hospitality, stability remain
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10:37, December 10, 2008

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China has experienced great changes during the past 30 years while maintaining its good traditions, a Russian journalist told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Konstantin Garibov, 34, made his first trip to China in 1987 as correspondent of a Russian international radio station.

He recalled that cars were a rare scene at that time even in the Chinese capital of Beijing, and the few cars were reserved for senior leaders and foreign guests.

He also paid a visit to Tianjin, a northern port city near Beijing. "People lived a very simple life. Although more and more goods were available at grocery stores, citizens had little extra money," he said when referring to the early stage of China's reform and opening-up.

As he made more business trips to China later on, Garibov was impressed by the country's dramatic changes, -- tall buildings sprang up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain, and people were wearing clothes of various styles and colors.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Chinese consumers usually brought dresses, hats, watches and even sewing machines from the then Soviet Union. However, as time went by, Russians went to China to hunt for a wider variety of commodities.

Garibov and his family settled down in Beijing after he was recruited by the China Radio International in 1995. Then he worked as a language polisher in Xinhua news agency until he left for Russia in 2003.

During the eight years, Garibov saw China's steady economic growth and great progress in poverty reduction. Meanwhile, people were no longer worried about their food and clothing. Instead, how to keep a slim figure has become many people's major concern, he noted.

Garibov is also a witness to China's car boom. "Young people not only can afford to buy cars, they are very choosy about car's brands as well," he said, noting that Chinese-made automobiles are now common in Russia.

During his visit to Heihe, a border town in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, he was amazed to find a flourishing busy trade center, where vegetables and fruits from South China are transported to the neighboring country.

Nevertheless, he noted there is something unchanged in the fast changing China, such as the tradition of hospitality, the Russian journalist said.

"I felt people's friendliness when I went to China for the first time. I have made many friends since I worked in the country," said a smiling Garibov.

When some foreigners working in China hurried to leave the country during SARS epidemic in 2003, Garibov decided to stay behind to tide over the hard times with his Chinese friends.

He said that when his colleagues thanked him for his decision, he took that as "the highest praise" for his job.

Moreover, China's social stability and security remain the same, Garibov said, citing his daughter's experience. "She went to discos with friends almost every weekend and came back home alone late at night. This is unimaginable in many countries."

Garibov still closely follows China's development after he returned to his homeland. He was very much impressed that China's Olympic team topped the gold medal tally in the Beijing Olympics and Chinese astronauts accomplished their first space walk.

He is now looking forward to the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. "It will go down as a new chapter in the Chinese history and reflect the country's up-to-date achievements," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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