My Great PIFI Experience in China

Jan 11, 2022

I am Jean-Louis Roujean from France. My stay in China as a distinguished scientist supported by CAS President's International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) was a great experience for me. It was indeed a stimulating visit through the fruitful discussions I had with my dear Chinese colleagues and the exploration of different places. Science and culture are for me definitively linked. We cannot collaborate at the international level without better understanding the culture of our dear colleagues.

The story tells several extraordinary trips that took me from Beijing to Wuhan, Nanjing and somewhere in Mongolia. Each time, I had the great opportunity to meet new people - some of them I knew before - working on topics that connect to my work and for which I had the strong feeling to share knowledge.

In Beijing, I gave seminar presentations at Beijing Normal University and different institutes. The number of attendees always surprised me and overall the relevant questions of the students. The discussions expanded largely after the seminar and I established contacts with some of them were to develop future collaborations. This was very classical during my visit, teaching and learning from new generations and their fresh ideas. I can't even remember of not having a good meal. The Chinese tradition to bring such a number of dishes on the table offers you a chance to discover new tastes, most of them I ignored them. I must say that science was often at the core of our discussion and had on it a new regard, like the role of science in our modern societies.

I had opportunities to visit the Hutong district and to discover how it changed and modernized. This is a typical symbol of a changing China. Some old factories were also transformed on museum of modern art. Science and art are closely linked and from the same education sometimes.

The whole area of Beijing Capital is not anymore polluted as the emissions of small size particles are now controlled and ruled, although the traffic congestion is still frequent. Riding bicycles is Beijing is now more pleasant indeed as there is more fresh air. Motorcycles are now electric, and the lack of noise may be a danger as you can't hear them coming. Better look around before using pedestrian crossing.

From Beijing, we took a train to Wuhan. It was very comfortable and very fast. Wuhan skyline revealed to me that it is indeed a growing city, its location in the middle of China being quite attractive. The promenade along and across the Yangtze River at sunset was unforgettable. My friends and colleagues took me also to the Yellow Crane Tower, a symbol of the city.

In Wuhan I strengthened my existing scientific collaboration and had opportunity to meet new people. The main topic was the effects of growing cities like Wuhan on regional climates. I must say that urbanization appears more and more central in research area where satellites of new generation can bring new insights and establish coarse scale strategies of development.

Leaving my friend and colleagues in Wuhan was not easy but the beautiful city of Nanjing and its sweet climate was my next step. Again I had a very pleasant trip using the fast train. We arrived on time and the driver took us where I was waited to give another seminar presentation, about carbon from space this time. As ever, my hosts were wonderful and a couple of students took us downtown for a short visit, followed by a banquet. Nanjing resembles to Venice and discovering the old city on a boat during the night-time will last in my memory, also considering the marvellous ambiance of the music shows.

After Nanjing, I was invited to travel outside the cities and visit some anchor stations. The drive was several hours at the north of Beijing near Mongolia and great plain. We could see the Great Wall from my time to time on the way. Some rolling meadows were regenerated by forests over acres and acres in order to provide sinks for carbon.

My overall stay in China was extremely pleasant and almost a sleepless period, between hard work, exotic visits, fruitful discussions, excitation to meet new people and to see again some of them.

I quit China with a roadmap for scientific collaboration for at least two years. Scientific production is not possible without friendship and shared culture, I must say.

Academic sharing in Beijing.

Experience of riding a sharing bicycle.

Enjoying roast duck in Hutong.

Visiting the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan.