Chinese Researcher about Life after Coronavirus

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Chinese authorities have lifted restrictions on residents' exit from Beijing, saying that a new outbreak of coronavirus infection, a hotbed of which was detected in June at a wholesale market, "to a big extent has disappeared.” Due to the improvement in the epidemiological situation, quarantine in metropolitan areas where people infected with COVID-19 live has also been cancelled.

The Celestial Empire promptly coped with the second wave of the epidemic and is returning to its previous way of life. How much has it changed? Has unemployment risen? And has the pandemic affected the level of cooperation between scientists from Russia and China? These and other questions addressed to Xiaowei Feng, a researcher at the State Laboratory of Coal Resources and Safe Mining of the University of Mining and Technology, located in Xuzhou City.

- How much has the pandemic changed the way of life in Chinese cities? In St. Petersburg, for example, fitness centres have just opened, and cinemas are still closed. And what it is like in China?

- At the beginning of the year, when we were in the midst of the epidemic, residents were not allowed to leave their homes; the country had some serious restrictive rules imposed. These measures, by the way, were approved by our society, nobody gave a hostile reception of the ban on freedom of movement. Therefore, the quarantine was observed quite strictly, which certainly contributed to stabilizing the situation and taking it under control.

Now, if you come to China, you won’t feel any difference compared to the good old days that preceded the coronavirus. For example, all the restaurants are open, many public places do not require masks. But the cinemas in Xuzhou, like in St. Petersburg, are still closed.

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Despite the fact that the pandemic has already retreated, people continue to suffer because of it. Those who don't work for the government at hospitals, schools, and other government agencies, very often lose their jobs. This is the harsh reality of the post-covid world.

- Have Chinese universities returned to full-time education (if not, when they will return)? Which form is preferable for you: remote or studies at the university? Why?

- Most of the universities in my country have already returned their normal times, and there is no need to wear a mask in some place. In the very beginning, roughly in April, students who chose to return back to school must stayed in their dormitories for 14 days at least to exclude the possibility of virus. I prefer to take class at the university since online class suffers a lot of shortcomings, you never know what your students are doing when you are just taking your class, and you may suffer the Internet problems, you surely can not guarantee the quality of your class.

- You took part in the 16th International Competition for Young Scientists. Usually it is held in St. Petersburg, but this year due to coronavirus it has moved in online. What is your research about? What is the aim of it?

- I am very glad to have the opportunity to attend the forum again, and I was a participate in April 2018, either. In this year, the online forum is presented in a very special way, and this makes the forum unforgettable in my opinion. My presentation in this forum is ‘Tentative Experiment on Rock Bolt Manufactured by Additive Manufacturing Technology’. By this method, the printing material for coal mine bolt can be defined, and then the bolt can be scaled down at any ratio. the scaled bolt can be utilized for physical simulation test. Plus, some complex supporting components can be printed with high strength. As for as I know, test like this has not been reported in existing literature.

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- How big are the chances to implement the results of your research in the industry? And are Chinese enterprises interested in cooperation with university science in principle? For Russia, for example, it is one of the most serious problems. The demand from business for scientific research is not always high...

- I cannot answer this question for sure. Because what I am doing right now has not yet been extensively explored in this area, adding that the price of the 3D printing material is relatively high, and it is unrealistic to fully implement this technology to coal mine or rock engineering without the consideration of the economic concerns. The chance of research-to-application is uncertain to most of the research results in China. Because in China, teachers in universities need to teach students and do researches, most of them do not have enough time to cooperate with the companies. From another perspective, the companies normally can not obtain what they want to have in universities, since it is quite difficult to bridge the gap between the research and application, universities seldom conduct researches about the requirements of the customers. Companies normally have their own R&D department and many persons from different research areas, I believe that the innovation power of company is better than that in university in my country.

- What, in your opinion, are the prospects for the development of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the future? Growth of joint scientific research? Development of academic mobility?

- I believe that the cooperation in the future is promising. As a researcher, I always can see all kinds of international cooperation projects between Russia and China, released by National Natural Science Foundation of China. These projects provide great opportunity for researchers from two countries to change ideas and to improve their researches. The vast majority of Chinese people has a very good feeling about Russia, and they do like Russian people. Adding that the relationship between the two countries is also very good right now, therefore, there is no need to query the possible obstructions of on-going cooperation and the cooperation that is coming.