Across China: Iraqi vlogger revels in newfound life in China

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CHENGDU, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Dressed in a sharp suit, with curly hair and a beard, and speaking Mandarin with a foreign accent, Ahmed Jabar, known by his Chinese name, Wang Lixuan, hails from Iraq and has made China his home for a decade. Always with a camera in hand, he captures moments of his life through selfies.

On Chinese social media, Jabar operates the immensely popular food vlogger account "Lao Wang in China," which has amassed over 15 million followers. His bio reads, "Having faced life's most painful trials, I cherish the stability and peace I've found in China. I adore the cuisine here, and the scenery is breathtaking."

"I mistook it for fireworks at first but soon realized it was the sound of falling missiles," Jabar recounted. Born in Iraq in 1994, his childhood is a tapestry woven with the sorrows of war and displacement. From Iraq to Syria, Jabar and his family braved the devastation of conflict. In 2014, with the aid of relatives, they finally reached China.

Upon his arrival in China, Jabar took up a role as an Arabic teaching intern at an international school in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. To integrate and start anew, he taught Arabic while diligently learning Chinese. "The people around me were incredibly patient. Although I couldn't comprehend their words initially, their eyes spoke volumes of their genuine affection and desire to assist me."

With unwavering determination, he seized every opportunity to master the language, achieving fluent communication within a year.

Over time, Jabar has embraced various roles: Arabic teacher, international student counselor, model, actor, and livestream host. Each transition has allowed him to acclimate to life in China and rediscover a sense of security.

In 2018, Jabar enrolled in a short video training course. This experience taught him basic editing skills and how to navigate social media and short video platforms like Bilibili and Douyin. During a trip, he recorded himself eating and commenting on the food, which after editing, he posted online to considerable acclaim.

Motivated by this success, Jabar continued to produce food exploration videos. This foreigner, with a love for Chinese food and a command of the language, began to gain recognition among an ever-growing audience.

Within six months, his fame skyrocketed, and his follower count on Douyin and Bilibili surged from a few thousand to over 15 million. Through his videos, viewers can explore a variety of Chinese cuisines from the comfort of their homes. "Lao Wang in China" offers a unique perspective on food from a foreigner's viewpoint, featuring heartwarming interactions with restaurant owners and diners, infusing each video with laughter and warmth.

"Heartbreaking" is a word frequently found in the comments of "Lao Wang in China" videos. During the 2024 Chinese Lunar New Year, while filming in Zhengzhou, Henan, he was startled by the sudden sound of firecrackers while eating alone at a barbecue stall. His eyes welled with fear as he froze for a few seconds, a moment captured by the camera. "I thought it was the sound of a bomb explosion."

This scene moved countless viewers, who left comments like, "Don't be afraid, you're in China," and "His startled reaction shows he's protecting himself, but lowering his head with a smile shows his trust in China."

In March, Jabar returned to his homeland after nearly 20 years, reuniting with his long-awaited parents. During his brief six-day stay in Iraq, he witnessed the gradual recovery of his country. To his delight, there are now Chinese restaurants in Baghdad, and schools, hospitals, bridges, and railways are being built with aid from China. "I deeply feel that China is warmly helping Iraq move forward," Jabar remarked.

"I'm a foreigner, but not an outsider. I love peaceful life and peaceful people." From Iraq to Syria and then to China, Jabar has spent ten years finding the security he longed for and his direction in life.

Looking ahead, Jabar hopes to expand his videos to include Chinese tourism, tea culture, clothing, customs, and ethnic minorities, aiming to create more quality content to help the world better understand China. Enditem

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