Re­turnees strike out on their own

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By HUANG LIYING huan­gliy­ing@chi­

Wear­ing black ties and cock­tail dresses, and sip­ping im­ported French red wines, hun­dreds of young peo­ple gath­ered in a five-star ho­tel on a late Oc­to­ber night, chat­ting and clink­ing glasses.

One could mis­take the gath­er­ing as one for Chi­nese ex­pats in some Euro­pean or Amer­i­can city, but it is ac­tu­ally in Bei­jing’s fi­nan­cial hub.

Xie Jin­biao, the host and head of event or­ga­niz­ers Ehuigui (lit­er­ally Once You are Back), said this was no or­di­nary net­work­ing evening.

The 27-year-old said his busi­ness, which he started af­ter re­turn­ing from the UK, is ded­i­cated to bring­ing Western life­styles and ways of do­ing busi­ness to China.

“I founded the busi­ness with a cou­ple of friends in the sum­mer, hop­ing to bring Western ideas to China,” he said, adding that he hopes it can de­velop into help­ing over­seas re­turnees com­mu­ni­cate and net­work.

As surg­ing num­bers of Chi­nese re­turn home for bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties amid the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, many of them, like Xie, have started com­pa­nies.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, the num­ber of re­turnees found­ing com­pa­nies has risen sharply in re­cent years. In Sichuan prov­ince alone, the num­ber

re­turned to China last year

started their own en­ter­prises in­creased 50 per­cent in 2012.

The An­nual Re­port of De­vel­op­ment of Chi­nese Re­turnees 2013 said 272,900 stu­dents re­turned to China last year, and 27.8 per­cent started their own com­pa­nies.

“The rea­son so many re­turnees choose to start a busi­ness in­stead of find­ing a job is be­cause they have learned ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and ideas abroad, so they have com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages in China,” said Wang Huiyao, di­rec­tor of the Center for China and Glob­al­iza­tion, a non­profit think tank in Bei­jing, and au­thor of the re­port.

“Say­ing many re­turnees can’t find jobs once they get back to China is not ob­jec­tive. Ac­tu­ally, more than 80 per­cent of job seek­ers find work within half a year af­ter they re­turn,” he added.

Xie, who ob­tained a mas­ter’s de­gree at Brunel Univer­sity, said he re­jected an of­fer from a Chi­nese com­pany be­fore start­ing Ehuigui.

“It is some­thing I re­ally en­joy,” he said, ex­plain­ing that he does not like work­ing for oth­ers. “I’m able to in­te­grate Western ideas and philoso­phies into the Chi­nese con­text, and it helps to dif­fer­en­ti­ate us from tra­di­tional Chi­nese com­pa­nies.”

He opened a toy and sou­venir store while in Lon­don’s Chi­na­town.

“I en­joyed work­ing very hard, and I think that kind of life­style can prove my value,” he said at the event in Oc­to­ber, to which he in­vited other re­turnees to share their en­tre­pre­neur­ial ex­pe­ri­ences with more than 150 guests, mostly fresh re­turnees.

Qi Lin, CEO of Chexun, a web­site fo­cused on au­to­mo­biles that re­ceives more than 40 mil­lion page views a day, was among the speak­ers that night. She said it took her five years to build the com­pany into what it is to­day. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Lon­don’s Univer­sity of West­min­ster, she worked for sev­eral Chi­nese com­pa­nies be­fore start­ing her own busi­ness.

“A lot of in­dus­tries in China are de­vel­op­ing very fast,” Qi said. “If we un­der­stand the trend and have some ad­van­tages, we can profit from the mar­ket.”

Wang at the Center for China and Glob­al­iza­tion said many over­seas re­turnees have been do­ing busi­ness in ar­eas such as elec­tronic in­for­ma­tion, high­tech­nol­ogy and new ma­te­ri­als for the past few years.

“Ac­cord­ing to our re­search, there are def­i­nitely more re­turnees shift­ing to the cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­try,” he said.

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