Canadian Daniel Dumbrill (L), a company owner, speaks at a symposium at Shekou Management and Service Center for Expats on Thursday. Sun Yuchen
LOCAL expats shared their Shenzhen stories and expressed confidence in the future development of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at a symposium at Shekou Management and Service Center for Expats on Thursday.
The symposium was held one day after a grand gathering was held in the city to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the SEZ in Qianhai on Wednesday attended by President Xi Jinping.
Zhang Lin, director with the city’s talent bureau, said at the symposium that he received many phone calls and WeChat messages from foreign professionals asking about Wednesday’s event.
“The symposium is held to learn about Xi’s inspiring speech on Shenzhen’s development, discuss the vision for the city’s future and get views on Shenzhen’s development from foreigners,” he said.
“Seeing is believing. Only those foreigners who come to Shenzhen can realize how amazing the city is,” said Juan Gibert, a Spanish businessman.
Xi stressed solid implementation of a people-centered philosophy of development in the reform and development of SEZs. For Gibert, the establishment of Shekou Service and Management Center for Expats is an example of this idea put into practice.
“For foreigners who are new to the city, the center did a lot helping newcomers to get accustomed to life in the community,” said Gibert.
Gibert, who has engaged in trade of chemicals and raw materials for shoes in Hong Kong for a decade, cares more about China’s investment policies for foreigners.
“China will expand its opening up and make it easier for foreigners to invest. I am confident with my business and Shenzhen’s future development,” he said.
The 53-year-old plans to settle in Shenzhen after retiring and hopes to send his 5-year-old son to a public school instead of an international school. But he wonders what policies Shenzhen offers for retired expats and how expat children can go to a public school.
“Shenzhen, an amazing city with a lot of miracles, needs to promote itself more and tells its stories to the outside of the world,” Aleksandra Kozlowska from Poland said.
As an HR manager in an IT company, she thinks Shenzhen is a dynamic and safe city.
“In Shenzhen, you can solve almost everything with a mobile phone. It is a first-tier city in China, but it is still less well-known to the world than Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong,” Kozlowska said. “My friends thought China is polluted, but after five years in Shenzhen, I can tell them that Shenzhen has good landscape and parks and is a city driven by innovation.”
“What is more impressive is I feel safe here. You can go out at night without worrying about safety and as a mother of two, you don’t have to worry about kids’ daily safety.”
With a financial background and working experience at multinationals in Beijing, London and Singapore, Briton Mawaz Imam came to Shenzhen because of his wife’s career. He has great confidence in its future.
Shekou is the home of more than 8,000 expats from more than 100 countries. According to Lan Tao, Party chief of Shekou Subdistrict, many expats, especially those living in Shenzhen on a long-term basis, are keen to know more about the city. The subdistrict will organize more activities to help them blend into the local community.
(Su Qin with Shekou Management and Service Center for Expats contributed to the story.)