High-profile Chinese celebrities from the worlds of athletics, education and television stopped at Queen Mary, University of London last week as part of a whirlwind tour of London coinciding with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Olympic gold medal diver Li Na and well-known TV hosts Jiong He and Li Weijia joined higher education expert Xu Xiaoping and TV producer Mei Long in visiting Centre of the Cell at QM’s Whitechapel campus on Friday 1 June.
Welcomed to the College by Liz Roche (Centre of the Cell), Louise Sutherland (International Office) and Professor Laurie Cuthbert, QM’s Dean for China, the group toured the Centre – a ground-breaking interactive science education and outreach project for young people – whilst learning more about why London is a great study destination for Chinese students.
The week-long ‘This is London Showcase’ has been filmed for the popular Chinese entertainment show Happy Camp. The show, aimed at an audience aged 15-44 is China’s most-watched entertainment programme, regularly attracting more than 100m viewers.
The tour was designed to give Happy Camp viewers and the celebrities’ blog followers an idea of why the UK’s capital is the best place to study, work, live and invest. It was organised by the London Universities International Partnership (LUIP), a group of 15 London universities, including QM, who work together to promote the city to international students.
All the figures taking part in the Showcase are keen micro-bloggers, using their websites and Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – to interact with millions of followers.
TV personality and social media star Jiong He, who also teaches Arabic at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, currently blogs to some 15m Weibo users and has over 28.5million followers on his Tencent social media account. He has release three albums, published four books, and hosted the popular programme Happy Camp, which is produced by fellow guest Mei Long, for more than 10 years. Over the last decade, he has built a reputation as a role model for China’s youth.
Joining him was Li Na, a diver who won Gold at the Sydney Olympics. Now a media personality and charity champion who holds a Masters in Sports Science from the University of Beijing, she previously studied for two years in the UK at the University of Leeds. As a result of her diplomatic influence, Leeds was chosen as the training base for Chinese teams prior to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Fellow guest Xu Xiaoping has become a household name in education after co-founding the New Oriental Education and Technology Group, the most successful and highly respected educational group in China. Listed on New York Stock Exchange, New Oriental is worth more than $3bn. Mr Xu regularly blogs to over 5.5m Weibo users.
Over the course of the week, the visitors have regularly updated their tens of millions of fans with a first-hand account of London life. Other highlights of the tour have included a visit to the British Museum and Tate Modern, fashion shows at Goldsmiths and Central St Martins, a reception celebrating China-Britain business connections and emerging Chinese talent, and a tour of the Olympic Park. On Sunday 3 June they took in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant.