International Communities

Writer:   |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: EyeShenzhen  | 

Shekou International Community

Sea World in Shekou. Liu Xudong

In 1979, Shekou became a trailblazer of China’s reform and opening-up. After 35 years of hard work, China Merchants Group has built the area into an international community. Surrounded by mountains and sea, the community boasts the biggest per capita greeneries in Shenzhen, complete with comprehensive facilities such as hospitals, gyms, schools, training centers as well as large leisure and entertainment venues. Shekou is the epitome of Shenzhen’s globalization.

Walking around Shekou, whether through the streets, parks, department stores, supermarkets or restaurants, you will come upon people of many different colors and origins who work and live there, calling the community their home.

Jingshan Villas, Fraser Place, Mont Orchid Riverlet, Coastal Rose Garden, and The Peninsula are all housing estates where expats account for a large proportion of the tenants. The beautiful environment, safe and comfortable facilities and a tolerance for people from all backgrounds have made Shekou a place its citizens feel proud of.

Many expats who live in Shekou are impressed by its beautiful environment. An oil company manager once said that Shekou has two main attractions - a beautiful environment and amenities - that make it feel like a comfortable European town. Close to Hong Kong and following international practices in many respects, residing in Shekou makes it easy to communicate with locals and travel to and from abroad.

The first expats to live in Shekou were employees of oil companies drilling in the South China Sea. By May 1982, 40 oil companies from 11 countries had submitted bids to operate oilfields in the South China Sea and built their logistics base in Chiwan, Shekou. Since then, a large number of oil company employees have settled in Shekou. While oil production is done at sea, commerce is dealt with on Shekou’s dry land.

Donghai Community

Located in the Xiangmihu subdistrict of Futian, Donghai is one of the eight local communities Shenzhen that is targeting to provide special support for developing international communities. The other communities include Shuiwei, also in Futian, and Yanshan in Nanshan District.

Amongst the Donghai community’s efforts to accommodate non-native residents is a liaison office for international residents (inaugurated Sept. 18, 2013), intended to help connect police, property management, volunteers and leasing agencies with foreign residents there. The office opens every Friday morning.

In addition to efforts to provide targeted services for expats that help them adjust to Chinese society, a variety of international cultural exchange activities have been held in the community.

Among the highlights was the first Cultural Exchange Week between China and South Korea.

Shuiwei Community

Located in central Futian and surrounded by tall buildings, Shuiwei is home to rows of neatly-dotted low-rise apartment buildings. There are schools, parks, wet markets and an assortment of restaurants in the village. While some native residents remain there, Shuiwei's population has seen an upsurge in its immigrant population.

Its vast variety of restaurants is a major appeal to local residents, expats and tourists from outside Shenzhen.

One distinctive cultural feature unique to Shuiwei is that it hosted the first International Urban Images Festival of Futian District in September 2014.

The festival featured a photo exhibition comparing old and new Shenzhen, documentary screenings and lectures by professional photographers.

Shuiwei Community is also home to an international school: the Shenzhen College of International Education. The Shenzhen College of International Education is a UK curriculum-based school, teaching only IGCSE, AS and A Level courses to predominantly Chinese students. The college is selective and its mission is to prepare students for entering competitive universities in UK, USA and elsewhere.

Yanshan Community

Yanshan Community is another area in Shenzhen with a notable number of expats making up its demographic composition. Some 2,700 expats from 47 countries and regions live here, comprising 10 percent of the total population. Nearly 200 residents are returned overseas Chinese living and residents of Hong Kong and Macao and their families. Japanese foreign residents account for the biggest number of expats in the community, followed by Americans, South Koreans, Canadians, Australians, Indians, Germans, French and Britons. With a lovely environment surrounded by sea and mountains, the community has international schools and such amenities as shops and recreational facilities. English is widely used.

To make life even more convenient for expats, Merchants Subdistrict has set up Shenzhen’s first Expat Service Center in the community, where community workers and police staff offer passport registration and other services including Chinese language teaching to residents. They also arrange for Chinese handicraft workshops, fun sports meets, legal lectures and psychological counseling.

East Coast Community

East Coast Community Expat Liaison Station in Meisha Subdistrict is equipped with a one-stop multifunctional service station. The station is includes three service windows for handling registration for temporary residence for expats, registration for foreign volunteers and consultations on other procedures.

Consultations on other procedures include guidance for leasing a business, language training and cultural exchange. The aim of these services is to provide a platform through which foreign residents are able to better integrate into the community.

Yantian District Government has paid special attention to the establishment of an international community in East Coast Community and has organized an array of events including the Family English Show, music festivals and an expats’ for discussing what kinds of difficulties expats living in East Coast Community have met in work, life and investment in a bid to better service them.

Currently, there are over 100 expats living in the community.

Dapeng Subdistrict

Dapeng Subdistrict is one of the first 20 pilot international communities certified by the Party Work Committee of Dapeng New District and approved by the Foreign Affairs Office of the CPC Shenzhen Municipal Committee.

Covering a total area of 76.24 square kilometers, Dapeng Subdistrict has 7 communities including Wangmu, Pengcheng, Shuitou, Buxin, Ling’ao, Xiasha and Dapeng, and 33 resident groups.

The Subdistrict has a resident population of 64,800 people, including a registered household population of 12,100.

The average concentration of PM2.5 is 20.4 micrograms per cubic meter, the forest coverage rate is 76%, and the coastline is about 31 kilometers in length.With beautiful mountains and sea scenery, Dapeng’s ecology is well-preserved.

By building a platform of diversity and inclusion, strengthening services and guiding participation, the channels for foreigners to participate in volunteer services have been opened up, and a standardized, professional and unique grassroots international volunteer service system has been actively built.

Quite a number of expatriate residents in the Subdistrict have become volunteers.

Kumar from India is one of them. He has used his expertise in photography and directing to recruit a team of volunteers to shoot multilingual versions of public service videos on epidemic prevention to provide expats with epidemic prevention knowledge and guidelines for returning to work and production.

Matteo from Italy is a member of the Dapeng Subdistrict’s volunteer team serving expats in epidemic prevention. In addition to Italian and English, he speaks fluent Chinese and has taken the initiative to join the volunteer team and actively assist the community in various epidemic prevention efforts.

Yuehai Subdistrict International Block

Yuehai Subdistrict is located in the core area of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao Science and Technology Innovation Corridor, and is home to a large number of high-tech industries, foreign-related enterprises, foreigners, and various intellectual resources, as well as high-tech industrial parks, Shenzhen University, Virtual University Park, commercial and cultural centers, Houhai headquarters area and a host of high-end residential estates. With full industry-city integration and a superior business environment, Yuehai Subdistrict has natural advantages for international block construction.

There are two characteristics of the foreign population in Yuehai Subdistrict: First, the number of foreigners in the subdistrict continues to grow. At present, there are more than 4,000 foreigners registered in the subdistrict, and the number is increasing continuously, among which, the number of foreigners from the United States, South Korea, Canada and Japan ranks in the top four; second, the foreigners are predominantly highly intelligent and knowledgeable talents. The main expatriate groups are experts, professors and foreign students from Shenzhen University, Virtual University Park and other institutions of higher learning, as well as executives and experts from many international enterprises. They are young, with high overall quality and frequently participate in daily international exchange activities.

Zhaoshang Subdistrict International Block

As the front of China’s reform and opening up, Zhaoshang Subdistrict has become an international subdistrict in various aspects in its 40 years of development. There are 555 foreign-funded enterprises such as Apple and Outform, 16 foreign-related travel enterprises and 6 international schools. There are the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport and Sea World commercial complexes, which witness frequent exchanges of international talents. Dubbed as the “Little United Nations,” Zhaoshang Subdistrict is home to 6,547 foreign talents of 100 nationalities, among which American, Korean, Japanese, French and English nationalities account for more than half of the foreign talents in the subdistrict.

Zhaoshang Subdistrict has opened several “one-stop” foreign-related government service platforms to offer expats online and offline services, including the WeChat account “Southwind Internaitonal (SWI).” These platforms provide foreigners with official policy information and guidelines, foreign-related laws and regulations and policy publications and consultation, life information, referral services, and foreign-related information collection. The city’s first subdistrict-level foreigner work permit work station was established in the subdistrict to provide more than 20 foreign-related services by combining service halls with online service halls, mini programs, self-service terminals and other resources to provide foreigners with authoritative and comprehensive service guidelines.

Zhaoshang Subdistrict has formed the city’s largest and registered international volunteer team of over 300 members, consisting of four squads engaged in environmental protection, community activities, pandemic prevention work and community services. The only vaccination site for foreigners in Nanshan District is located in Zhaoshang Subdistrict, which organized international volunteers to help translate the entire process at the vaccination and nucleic acid testing sites, compiled a guidebook for vaccination process, and organized and translated a vaccination Q&A manual for foreigners in English, French, Japanese and Korean. Zhaoshang Subdistrict also helped organize group vaccination services for foreign-related companies and international schools. Up to now, international volunteers have participated in the epidemic prevention and control work for more than 10,000 service hours and served more than 80,000 Chinese and foreign residents.

Zhaoshang Subdistrict has formed three international public service platforms including the three newly completed virtual platforms – the Shenzhen Foundation International Cooperation and Exchange Center, the Zhaoshang Subdistrict Foreign-related Non-profit Tax Service Center and the Zhaoshang Subdistrict Yingke Foreign-related Legal Non-profit Service Center. At present, free foreign-related legal consultation services have been launched to provide legal support for housing leasing, labor and employment, marriage and family, foreign investment, customs supervision, tax planning and various commercial contracts. In total, more than 60 sessions of free foreign-related legal counseling services have been launched, serving more than 200 international talents. Zhaoshang Subdistrict also organized three lectures on taxation topics for foreign residents according to the needs of international talents and foreign enterprises, and published 500 copies of bilingual taxation guide brochures.

Zhaoshang Subdistrict also made efforts to engage with international organizations and help organizations such as the South Korean Business Union, the Russian Community, the Alliance Française, and the International School Parent Committee to solve their work and life concerns. It also cooperates with Shenzhen University’s School of Foreign Languages and School of International Exchange to support international volunteers to establish the Qwan Ki Do Club of Zhaoshang Subdistrict. The subdistrict also organized a bilingual exhibition of the history of the Communist Party of China (the first of its kind in the city), an exhibition of international friends in the history of the CPC, a free guzheng class, a Chinese food exploring activity, a cultural exhibition titled “Nanshan Impression,” a movie night on the theme of Red history, and Chinese language classes.

Taoyuan Subdistrict International Block

At present, there are around 2,500 foreigners in Taoyuan Subdistrict from 45 countries including the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Most of them are well-educated and high-caliber talents studying and working in the subdistrict.

As one of the first pilot subdistricts for the city’s international block construction, Taoyuan Subdistrict appointed Mr. Denis Laming, an internationally renowned consultant, as the chief consultant to guide the work on the construction of the international block. At the same time, the subdistrict published the Taoyuan Subdistrict International Block Construction Work Plan (2020-2022) which outlines the blueprint of the international block construction. The work plan mainly describes the need for research on international blocks, further improvement of the hardware and software facilities, adhering to the integration of campus, park and community, and the organization of Chinese and foreign cultural exchange activities. The work plan also stipulates that the Xili Lake Talent Service Center should play a role as an international one-stop comprehensive service platform to create an international talent block, gather high-end talents, and gradually form a new social governance pattern based oncollaboration, broad participation and common gains.