Building BRI in South America

 December 7, 2023

Xu Peipei, an engineer, has participated in the building of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), through her company's projects in South America, since 2014. As a Party (Communist Party of China) secretary, she has created a warm "home" for Chinese workers overseas. In her family, she and her husband, Cui Baofeng, support each other, and they help each other overcome difficulties in life. For Xu, both her work and family are sources of happiness. 

Shouldering Responsibilities Overseas 

Xu, born in 1982, is secretary of the Party branch of the Peru project team of China Railway No. 9 Group Co., Ltd., Dalian Branch. In 2005, after she graduated from the civil engineering department of Lanzhou Jiaotong University, she began working at China Railway No. 9 Group Co., Ltd., Dalian Branch. 

In 2008, the company began expanding its businesses overseas, and it has since participated in numerous construction projects in many countries. Also in 2008, Xu began doing Party-related work in the company. In 2014, she learned some of the company's overseas projects required experienced Party workers to establish and manage their Party branches. So, she decided to apply for such a position. 

"My son was only one year old at that time. I couldn't take care of him if I went to work in another country. I was grateful that my husband understood and supported my decision. I must set a good example for my son by doing my best at work," Xu says. 

The company accepted Xu's application, and eventually posted her in Venezuela. Xu was the first woman Party secretary of all of the company's overseas engineering project teams. 

The environment for construction projects overseas can often be complicated, due to uncertainties in local politics, the local economy and various other aspects. Most of the workers assigned to Xu's project team were young. As such, it was easy for them to have mood swings in the dull living environment overseas. 

Xu has paid attention to both the spiritual and material needs of each worker. She has provided guidance in work, and she has provided daily necessities to the workers. By creating a home-like atmosphere for the workers, Xu has been dubbed "Mother Xu." 

In 2016, Xu was appointed to manage the united Party branch for the company's projects in Venezuela and Bolivia. She had to travel more than 30,000 kilometers, by air, within a year. Shortly after beginning work at the potash plant project, in Bolivia, Xu suffered from altitude sickness. But she maintained her strong will, and she remained dedicated to her work. The project was completed on time, and it was praised by then-Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma. The project won the Luban Prize, the highest prize in China for construction projects, in 2019. 

In 2020, after the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Xu stayed in Peru. She led Party members in taking actions quickly to safeguard workers' health. They purchased materials for epidemic prevention, provided psychological guidance and organized online courses, to spread information about disease prevention among the workers. 

When asked why she always remains calm in the face of difficulty, Xu says the company, as a big family behind her, gives her strength. "Although we work abroad, we have strong backing from the motherland all of the time. I am a member of my team, and we can work together to overcome difficulties," says Xu. 

Having worked in South America for eight years, Xu realizes building high-quality international projects along the Belt and Road will help form an enterprise's image and promote the national image of China. All workers involved in such projects should take promoting the images of China and their enterprises as their mission. 

In addition to promoting infrastructure construction in the regions of their projects, Xu and her team have organized exchange activities, with local enterprises and institutions, to spread Chinese culture. During important festivals, they have visited and offered help to children and workers coping with difficulties in their lives. Their efforts have reflected the compassion of Chinese enterprises, and they have won the recognition of local people and governments. 

Given her outstanding performance, Xu has received many titles, including being named a national outstanding woman railway worker and a woman pacesetter for achievements at the national level. Earlier this year, she received the National May 1 Labor Medal. Her family was selected a National Most Beautiful Family. 

Always Be Trailblazers 

In 2014, Cui resigned from his job, as a civil servant, to join Xu in Venezuela. Cui's mother took good care of their son, in China, to support Xu in her work. Xu feels she owes a lot to her family. She uses the strength derived from her family's support as momentum in advancing her career. 

"As a Chinese, a participant of BRI and an employee of a State-owned enterprise, I think my eight years of experiences in working abroad is a microcosm of the journey Chinese women have gone through to make achievements overseas. My work also reflects the honorable missions of all overseas workers of my company, putting into practice the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity, and promoting world peace and progress. I believe all of my fellow workers overseas will always be trailblazers in building the BRI," says Xu.


Photos Supplied by Interviewee

(Women of China English Monthly October 2023 issue)


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