Feature: Fan of Sichuan hot pot, tech chief of BiH power plant has soft spot for China

Updated: January 4, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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SARAJEVO, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Aleksandar Milic, 44, is the technical director of the Thermal Power Plant (TPP) near the village of Stanari in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) -- the first such plant built by China in Europe.

Milic has visited China several times, and by working with a team of Chinese technicians in BiH he has developed a soft spot for the Asian country in general -- and, he rushes to add, for the super spicy but "delicious" Sichuan hot pot in particular.

Sichuan is a province in southwestern China, where the Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) is headquartered. The DEC built the TPP, and several members of the project management team hailed from there.

Back in 2015, Milic was hired by the United Kingdom-based Energy Financing Team (EFT Group), the investor of the Stanari TPP project that had selected the DEC as its major cooperation partner for the project. Milic was tasked with putting together a team to operate the 300-megawatt plant that was inaugurated in 2016.

"A power plant is a complex system, and all kinds of dangerous situations can occur," Milic told Xinhua. "Only highly trained and skilled people can work at a power plant. Selecting and training local people was one of our most challenging tasks."

Following an intensive recruitment process aided and supported by the project's Chinese partners, Milic pulled together a 150-strong management and operation team, which remains unchanged to this day.

Milic recalled the "most memorable" moment when the plant was officially commissioned and said that it "proved that everything we've done has been successful and great."

Through thick and thin, the team stood its ground, and Milic said he was deeply impressed by the Chinese technicians' skill and dedication. "My team and I will never forget their courage, efficiency and professionalism," he said.

In the eyes of his Chinese colleagues, Milic is a manager with charisma and executive ability. His team is united, dedicated and always ready to learn from the Chinese partners.

"In just two years, his young team quickly mastered key technologies for the operation and maintenance of the power plant. The original plan was to leave behind 30 members of the Chinese team to guide the operation of the power plant, but now only three are needed," Hu Yang, technical director of DEC's Stanari project, said.

Thanks to the cooperation between the Chinese and Bosnian team members, the Stanari TPP has become a signature project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in BiH. It brings considerable economic and social benefits to the area, takes into account the plant's ecological and environmental impact, and ushers the area of Stanari among BiH's regions with the highest per capita income.

Over the years, Milic's love for China has grown more and more extensive by spending time with the Chinese team.

"Aleksandar is our best friend, our good buddy," Hu said. "Apart from being addicted to the hot pot, he often checks Chinese e-commerce websites and is impressed by China's speed of development and the high quality of its industrial and civilian products."

Milic has visited China several times, and the more he saw the more passionate about the country he became.

He even sent a photo to Xinhua, which was taken in a hot pot restaurant in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. It shows a smiling Milic raising his glass with a Sichuan hot pot steaming in the foreground. 

Editor: Gao Jingyan