FROM BEI­JING TO HO CHI MINH CITY

▶ Ex­pats share their thoughts of work­ing in de­vel­op­ing Viet­nam with mixed feel­ings of fa­mil­iar­ity in China

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Jieyi

Bei­jing is in the heart of its win­ter sea­son. Sit­ting be­side a win­dow com­plete with twin­kling lights and Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in his restau­rant, Crazy Town, 40-yearold US ci­ti­zen Doron Reshen looks out onto the frozen Liangmahe River.

“I re­ally hope that I can live on a beach [in Viet­nam], I miss the beach,” he said.

Reshen says he has been in­ter­ested in Viet­nam’s his­tory since he was a child and wants to en­joy a life­style dif­fer­ent from China’s.

Un­like Reshen, other peo­ple are at­tracted to Viet­nam be­cause of the eco­nomic fac­tors. Ce­cile, a 37-year-old French na­tional, has been look­ing for jobs si­mul­ta­ne­ously in China and Viet­nam.

“Some west­ern com­pa­nies which have of­fices there are of­fer­ing po­si­tions, and I don’t think there are many job op­por­tu­ni­ties in other coun­tries,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to data from the Hong Kong and Shang­hai Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (HSBC), Viet­nam, amid the most de­sir­able lo­ca­tions for ex­pat ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, has over­taken Japan, the Repub­lic of Ko­rea (ROK), Thai­land and some other Asian coun­tries and re­gions.

In 1986, the gov­ern­ment first in­tro­duced “ĐÔi MÓi” or “ren­o­va­tion” in Viet­namese lan­guage, which came af­ter China’s re­form and open­ing-up that was launched in 1978.

The US-based news web­site voanews.com said, “Viet­nam, like China a decade ago, de­pends largely on [the] pro­duc­tion of low-tech ex­ports such as gar­ments, fur­ni­ture and car parts.” Viet­nam’s econ­omy has ex­panded at more than six per­cent an­nu­ally since 2015.

Liv­ing in Viet­nam

Metropoli­tan re­cently so­licited ex­pats’opin­ions on mov­ing to work in Viet­nam and got some re­sponses. Brett Mi­nor, who moved to Viet­nam about six months ago, is one of them.

“Look at the sky! It is very blue and clean,” he said through a WeChat video call, turn­ing his lap­top to en­sure that we can see out­side the win­dow of his apart­ment. He lives in the beach­side city of Hoi An.

“Look, there is no pol­lu­tion, I don’t need to check the PM2.5 level on my phone ev­ery day,” he said with a smile. In ad­di­tion to the agree­able en­vi­ron­ment, he has also wit­nessed the fast de­vel­op­ment of Viet­nam.

“What I’ve seen here is that they are en­cour­ag­ing ex­pats to come here so they make the process of do­ing so very easy. Be­cause there are so many ex­pats com­ing into the area, there are new busi­ness districts de­vel­op­ing ev­ery­where,” he said. “They are try­ing very hard to be as friendly as pos­si­ble for all the new peo­ple who are com­ing in to Viet­nam,” Mi­nor added.

John Tobin said the Viet­namese peo­ple are friendly. “Ac­tu­ally, I did the op­po­site. I left Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and then re­turned to Bei­jing,” reads a post from the Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen Tobin, 50. Think­ing back on his Viet­nam life three years ago, one of his most vivid mem­o­ries was the pas­sion of the Viet­namese and their col­or­ful fes­ti­vals. “Al­though they have spring fes­ti­val like China does, the way they cel­e­brate it is dif­fer­ent from the Chi­nese peo­ple, which makes me feel like I’m part of them,” Tobin said.

Rea­sons for Viet­nam

Mi­nor says that the rea­sons he left China for Viet­nam are com­plex, but in terms of English teach­ing, he has seen some changes in Bei­jing, with an em­pha­sis on qual­ity over quan­tity.

“15 or 20 years ago in China, they would wel­come any­body com­ing in to help teach English, but now there are many new reg­u­la­tions which make it dif­fi­cult for some peo­ple to do tu­tor­ing jobs,” he said.

The Global Times re­ported that China launched a new work per­mit pol­icy in 2016 by the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of For­eign Ex­perts Af­fairs (SAFEA), which clas­si­fies for­eign work­ers into

three cat­e­gories, rank­ing them as an A, B, or C ex­pat. Un­der this new pol­icy, qual­i­fied for­eign English teach­ers should be na­tive English speak­ers with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from their home coun­try, in ad­di­tion to hav­ing two years of teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Viet­nam is be­com­ing an open econ­omy, which is con­tin­u­ing to at­tract ris­ing for­eign in­vest­ment and more tourists. This also means there will be a greater de­mand for lo­cal peo­ple to use English, hence the need for more English teach­ers. “Af­ter search­ing on­line, I found that Viet­nam ranks the first among Asian coun­tries in ur­gent need of English teach­ers,” said Mi­nor.

When it came down to choos­ing Viet­nam over other Asian coun­tries, Mi­nor says that he and his wife made this de­ci­sion af­ter con­sid­er­ing English teach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

For oth­ers, life ex­penses could also be a fac­tor for mov­ing to Viet­nam. Ce­cile lived in Bei­jing from 2014 to 2017 and then moved to an uniden­ti­fied coun­try for a year. When she came back again this Au­gust, she found that life is not as easy as it was four years ago.

“At that time, I rented in Beilu­ogux-iang in Dongcheng district. I rented an apart­ment with one bath­room, one liv­ing room, one bed­room and one kitchen for 4,200 yuan ($609) a month. Now, the same price won’t al­low me to have that kind of an apart­ment any­more,” Ce­cile said. Ac­cord­ing to a Voice of China re­port, the av­er­age rent in Bei­jing is now 5,000 yuan per month.

Like Ce­cile, Mi­nor and his wife also felt the pres­sures of ris­ing rent­ing costs in Bei­jing. By con­trast, rent in Viet­nam is much lower.

“We paid over $800 a month for a very small apart­ment in Bei­jing, while we now have a huge three-story house for only $500 a month,” he noted.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to an eas­ier life­style, less work and a bet­ter work-life bal­ance,” he said.

Mov­ing bar­ri­ers

Al­though some statis­tics show that Viet­nam is grow­ing fast, the in­ter­vie­wees all found that Bei­jing still has higher salaries and more job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The salary for an English teacher in Bei­jing, is much higher than in Viet­nam, Mi­nor noted. He used to work in a pub­lic school in Bei­jing with a salary of 15,000 yuan and a 4,000 yuan hous­ing al­lowance per month, while in Hoi An, the pay­ment for pub­lic school teach­ers in only half.

“The salary is var­ied for dif­fer­ent places in Viet­nam. In HCMC, English teach­ers can get bet­ter ones,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the ca­reer coun­sel­ing and job ser­vice web­site ca­reerchina. com, across China, the av­er­age salary for ex­pat tu­tors could range from 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan. Move­toviet­nam.com has pub­lished salaries for English teach­ers in Viet­nam, which range from $1,200 to $2,000.

Ce­cile even­tu­ally made her de­ci­sion – stay­ing in China for a more com­pet­i­tive pay. When asked what she would do if she had re­ceived an equally good job of­fer from China and Viet­nam, Ce­cile says she would make the same de­ci­sion, cit­ing her fa­mil­iar­ity with the way of life in the coun­try. “My friends are here and it’s not an easy thing to start a new so­cial life.”

Reshen agrees. “I came to China as a teenager and have spent half of my life here. All the mem­o­ries here make it dif­fi­cult for me to leave,” he said. To find out whether Viet­nam will be a new place for him to set­tle, Reshen is plan­ning to visit the coun­try first. “If I can in­te­grate into that so­ci­ety, I’ll take the next step.”

Photo: VCG

Many ex­pats are mov­ing to Viet­nam to grasp job op­po­tu­ni­ties or to live a bal­anced life.

Photo: VCG

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam

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