A young Mexican's triumphal return to China
By Magdalena Rojas  ·  2023-11-06  ·   Source: NO.45 NOVEMBER 9, 2023
Nanjing in Jiangsu Province is a city with a rich history, which Rocío Elías greatly enjoyed (COURTESY PHOTO)

Arriving in Beijing less than two months ago was a dream come true for Rocío Elías. After having previously lived in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, in 2017, this is the second time living in China for the young Mexican, who used to work for Chinese technology giant Huawei and who is a graduate of the College of Mexico (Colmex).

The affection Elías feels for China has grown over time as she has gotten to know aspects of its traditions and way of life in greater depth. China's influence in Mexico has been increasing for more than 10 years, especially in commerce, according to Elías. "I had the opportunity to work for an import company and therefore was able to have firsthand experience of the growth of bilateral trade in goods. That was my first exposure to China," she explained. Later, she completed a master's degree at the Center for Asian and African Studies of Colmex, where her specialty was China, which allowed her to learn more about its culture, philosophy, geography and history. "At that time, my interest in visiting China became more and more intense," she said.

The opportunity came in 2017, when Elías came to Nanjing and studied Chinese at Nanjing University through a Chinese government scholarship. According to her, in addition to the excellent academic environment, living in China was a window to a world of new experiences. "It changed my life," she said. "I had the opportunity to meet people from other cultures and, above all, learn Chinese, and to see many of the places I had only read about in books."

Tech revolution 

There is no doubt about the growing influence that China is building in the field of telecommunications and technology. In 2019, Elías also found herself at the forefront of this tech revolution when she began working for Huawei in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. With a population of barely 1 million inhabitants, Querétaro is home to one of Huawei's global service centers.

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology infrastructure and smart devices. During her four years at the company, Elías served as marketing manager for a Spanish-language forum called Comunidad Huawei Enterprise, which is dedicated to offering online help to those who use Huawei products such as switches, routers and servers, as well as the company's security, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI) products and other business services. "My job was to carry out the marketing plan for this forum for the entire Spanish-speaking community in Latin America, through consultations within the forum, conferences, in-person and virtual workshops and webinars, as well as by participating in joint events with universities and clients in countries across the region," she recalled.

The job allowed Elías to meet many people from different schools in Mexico, Peru and Colombia, who helped her create lasting links between the company and the educational sector. Likewise, Elías helped organize some of Huawei's projects to engage students, including social initiatives such as Seeds for the Future and the international Huawei ICT Competition, an event aiming to promote exchange between professionals in the information and communications technology sector.

According to Elías, China has made leaps and bounds in this sector because of its high investment in research and development. "China has become a world leader in telecommunications and competes with companies of yesteryear such as Cisco or Juniper," she said. 

The innovations of Chinese companies have not only translated into more technological devices and services, but also into tangible benefits for the population in regions where their services are available, according to Elías. For example, many public service projects in Mexico have used Huawei's technologies. "So not only companies but also the government know about the cost-benefit of these solutions," she continued.

Mexican representatives inspect the first articulated light rail train customized for Mexico City in a factory of CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co. Ltd. in Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, on September 9 (XINHUA)

A long-awaited return 

The years at Huawei were a great source of lessons for Elías, not only for career development, but also because they enabled her to better understand the customs and way of thinking of the Chinese. As a result, Elías said she was able to remain inserted, or at least be in contact, with Chinese culture despite the geographical distance between China and Mexico.

It was precisely her longing for the country and the desire to continue learning that prompted her return, but this time to Beijing. "I like to continue learning and growing as a person and professional," she claimed. "When I was in China the first time, I enjoyed every moment of learning, but I also loved life here: the security, the ease of moving from one place to another, how instantaneous some procedures can be and, in general, how the Chinese live."

Elías is studying in an intensive Chinese program at the Beijing International Studies University. "Although it is the capital of the country, I did not imagine it would be this big," she said. In her opinion, Nanjing is a city that moves at a slower pace, that has many natural attractions within a short distance, and that neighbors many other emblematic cities such as Shanghai, Suzhou in Jiangsu Province or Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. Beijing, however, has many places that are very important for the government, but more so for culture, such as world heritage sites including the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven and the Palace Museum that houses the imperial palace complex dating from the middle 15th century to the early 20th century.

"I love living in China. For me, every day is living an ideal that I have waited for a long time, so I put effort into every decision I make to be able to find an opportunity that allows me to stay here," Elías concluded.

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

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