Tian­jin a city al­ways chang­ing — for the bet­ter

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

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Work­ing in a real es­tate and in­vest­ment man­age­ment firm, Michael Hart knows ex­actly where is the best place to live.

Hav­ing lived in Tian­jin for more than eight years, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of JLL Tian­jin said he and his fam­ily in­creas­ingly en­joy the slow­er­pace of the ever-evolv­ing city.

Tian­jin is con­nected to Bei­jing in many ways, but it is a world apart in terms of daily in­ter­ac­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences, the Amer­i­can said. There are rel­a­tively few for­eign­ers per capita in Tian­jin, and each day one has the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the “real” China.

It isn’t un­com­mon to be the only for­eigner in a res­tau­rant, in the of­fice build­ing, on a flight or on the sub­way. On the other hand, it seems any time a new “for­eign” busi­ness opens, in­vi­ta­tions are easy to get.

“I think I’ve been to al­most ev­ery five-star ho­tel open­ing and those for many busi­nesses here over the past eight years,” he said. “I re­mem­ber be­ing in­vited to an open­ing event for an an­nual trade fair in Tian­jin and only later re­al­ized I was about 10 me­ters away from Kofi An­nan, the for­mer sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions.

All of the for­eign­ers were herded to­gether on the stage. Things are evolv­ing and the for­eign pro­fes­sional com­mu­nity is grow­ing, but it is still an in­ter­est­ing time to live in this evolv­ing city and econ­omy.”

As one of the world’s top-five real es­tate con­sult­ing firms, JLL opened its Tian­jin of­fice in late 2006 and Hart moved here with his fam­ily. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked and lived in Taipei and Shang­hai, he ad­mits he found Tian­jin not as con­ve­nient and di­verse back then. The choices of restau­rants were lim­ited as were the cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties for for­eign­ers, he said.

How­ever, the de­vel­op­ment of the city since he ar­rived has greatly im­pressed him, es­pe­cially the con­struc­tion of in­fra­struc­ture — sev­eral new sub­way lines have opened and the air­port and rail­way sta­tion have been ren­o­vated. It is more con­ve­nient for his friends in Bei­jing to come to visit him in Tian­jin.

“In­creas­ingly there are week­end tourists com­ing from Bei­jing and sur­round­ing ar­eas, and I be­lieve the city’s slower pace and restau­rants and cul­tural of­fer­ings will con­tinue to evolve and with it im­prove the city’s liv­abil­ity,” said Hart, who lives with his wife and two chil­dren.

At the same, the JLL team in Tian­jin has grown from four to more than 60 peo­ple. The ser­vice they pro­vide is sim­i­lar to that in Shang­hai and Bei­jing, in­clud­ing real es­tate man­age­ment, com­mer­cial real es­tate leas­ing, re­tail and in­dus­trial real es­tate leas­ing and con­sult­ing, as well as a newly opened in­ter­na­tional real es­tate busi­ness, which as­sists Chi­nese peo­ple seek­ing to in­vest in prop­erty in Europe. Their clients are not only from Tian­jin, but cities such as Shi­ji­azhuang and Tangshan in neigh­bor­ing He­bei province.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing is still the pil­lar in­dus­try in Tian­jin, with of­fices and fac­to­ries of top multi­na­tion­als in auto, elec­tronic, chem­i­cal and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and avi­a­tion in­dus­tries.

“I think there is still a great deal of room for Tian­jin to in­crease its fo­cus on tourist in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vice in­dus­tries,” Hart said. “Tian­jin is a lovely city with an in­ter­est­ing mix of Chi­nese and Euro­pean ar­chi­tec­ture and history from the past 150 years that is dif­fer­ent from any­where else in China.”

He added: “As long as the econ­omy con­tin­ues to be strong I look for­ward to stay­ing in Tian­jin. My fam­ily en­joys the city and JLL has a great team and com­pany cul­ture. I think we have a long bright fu­ture ahead of us here.” Con­tact the writ­ers through tangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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