Celebrating Dragon Boat Festival

This Friday June 7th, your favorite relocation partner office in China will be closed due to a national day-off. The Dragon boat Festival is taking place each 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. ASI Movers will tell you the history behind this day, and how people use to celebrate this event in China.

The history behind the Festival

This day has been a national holiday break for a while now, more than 2,000 years. Originally, this day aims to prevent the population against diseases, by using herbs and medicine. Herbs and ointment used to be sacrificed to the spirit on a dragon boat.

Later, an important public figure died during this day: Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a poet and minister of the King of Chu. As a clever and wisdom man, always putting the country and its people first, he was source of good advices for the King, but also created jealousy among its peers. Some official were plotting to make him exile. He composed during his exile one of the most famous poem of the Chinese Literature: 離騷 (Lí Sāo) – Encountering Sorrow. This poem narrates its own life, its fall from the King’s grace, but also its travel around the Chu kingdom after being exiled.

Photo by Wang Qi. Image available under a Creative Commons license.


How well I know that
loyalty brings disaster;
Yet I will endure: I cannot give it up.
I called on the ninefold heaven to be my witness,
And all for the sake of the Fair One, and no other.
There once was a time when he spoke with me in frankness;
But then he repented and was of another mind.
I do not care, on my own count, about this divorcement,
But it grieves me to find the Fair One so inconstant.

Source: From Anthology of Chinese Literature, Volume I: From Early Times to the Fourteenth Century, edited by Cyril Birch (New York: Grove Press, 1965), 51-62.

When he learnt that the kingdom was taken by the Qin, exactly in 278 BCE, he jumped into the Miluo River to drown himself, exactly the 5th day of the 5th month. Respected and appreciated by many locals, the people of Chu were looking into the river with their boat to save him. They were also throwing some cooked rice and poured wine, to feed the fish and avoid them from eating his body.

Celebrating Dragon Boat Festival

To commemorate this day and the spirit of Qu Yuan, people are now eating some Zongzi, sticky rice commonly wrapped in reed leaves (bamboo leaves sometimes), and drinking wine. There is a Zongzi for every taste: they can be filled with date as well as red bean, meat, egg yolk and ham. You can find all around the country some delicious and colorful Zongzi.

The old tradition of preventing disease has not been forgotten. The elders still wear odorous herbs bag on themselves or hanging in the house as well as some other charms.

The most popular activity during this day is definitely the dragon boat racing. This really large boat has a shape of long traditional Chinese dragon (sufficiently long to have sometimes as much as 60 rowers!), opening largely its mouth. The race cannot start without performing a ceremony where rowers paint the dragon’s eye to make it “alive”. A drummer is sitting at the front of the boat, to give rhythm to the rowers. The race illustrates the attempt to save Qu Yuan, and the winner is the team managing to reach first the destination point. Most famous dragon boat race are taking place in the Miluo river at Yueyang (Hunan province), Hong Kong, or Hangzhou in the Zhejiang province. But nowadays, we can actually see this kind of race overseas! This event has become more and more popular overseas, in countries where Chinese ethnics are strongly present (e.g. Japan, South Korea, Australia and Vietnam) or where rowing is already a popular sport (e.g. Britain). Wherever you are in China or anywhere else around the Globe, do not hesitate to take part to this race. It is a good occasion to practice a team sport, and enjoying a day off.

ASI Movers team wishes you a good week-end, and we hope you will enjoy and make the most of this moment, eating some good Zongzi or discovering a fabulous dragon race boat!

Children and Expatriation: Moving abroad with your Kids

Mummy or Daddy is relocating to China for work and the whole family will follow her/him in this brand new adventure. Finding a new home, moving out and in, finalizing administrative tasks, saying goodbye… this fresh start requires a lot of preparation!

This key step in one’s life, physically and emotionally challenging, is impacting the whole family, particularly the offspring. Thinking that they are too young to understand the ongoing preparation, that they will adapt easily to any kind of environment, and so exclude them from the preparations and from the moving process would end up in minimizing the impact of such an event can have on them. Contrarywise, any expatriation project and its preparation should be thought with the help of the offspring, in order to avoid them feeling unwell at their arrival in a new country.

Everyone Has a Different Way of Experiencing It

If the parents could see in the expatriation many opportunities for their children, a “chance” for them to discover a new culture and a new language, the child might not have the same opinion.  With each age comes its own expectations and concerns, its reactions to a switch environment.

Indeed, moving will be differently experienced depending on your child being 3, 7, or 14 years old. It is mostly due to already built landmarks, as some will need to be deconstructed when he/she will arrive in the new place.

Todlers could be easily appeased by some familiar elements, like games or their favorite teddy bear. Nonetheless, they might be destabilized by moving into a new room, or a parent becoming less available for them.

Don’t we say often « 7 years old, the age of the reason?” It is also around 7 years old that children start building their own environment and identity, at school or by playing sports or practicing music. Moreover, they start learning foundations, like writing and mathematics. Environmental change could be really disrupting and have an impact on how the child will behave at home and out, as well as on its school commitment.

Teenagers, who are also building a sense of identity, might be unsettled by these changes. They might bond more with the nuclear family rather than finding new friends, or on the contrary, withdraw from their family circle, looking for more emancipation.

Abnormal behavior might be the result of a delicate expatriation for a child: sleeping and eating disorder, gloomy and irascible attitude, emerging difficulties at school (in its learning as well as in its integration), etc. are few examples.

Communication and Participation Are Key

First of all, it is important for the parents to take the time to announce the move to their offspring, to avoid doing it at the last minute and into the rush. Children can easily feel anxiety toward the idea of moving, and need time to eliminate their apprehension. One should let the children enough time to get familiar with the idea, as for them to make the most of these last moments, even organize a farewell.

Being a young expat involves many lifestyle changes, that could be stressful. One needs to listen carefully to one’s children’s apprehension and appease any of their doubt, introducing them the positive aspects of this departure, but also being honest regarding eventual new challenges coming with this trip. Having knowledges about the host country and making the child discover it before the arrival is a plus. It would help him/her to face culture chock and make his/her adaptation easier. Expats associations and clubs are numerous around the world. Contacting them is a good way to forge relationships before your arrival. 

Many psychologists and expat parents acknowledge that involving the kids in the departure’s preparations is essential. The idea behind it is to not let them feel that the moving decision is one-sided i.e. only made by the parents, but rather letting them understand that their opinion counts, and how it will impact their future. For example, you can together browse information about the host country and its usages, asking his/her opinion about the new home and his/her room layout, or his/her future school and activities there. In some cases, you can even plan schooling at home. Arranging the move with him/her is essential, to let him/her choose what he/she wants to keep.

Living abroad is a challenge, no matter the age. For sure, children have a great adaptability, and being a young expat will make them become “Third Culture Kids”: multicultural and open-minded kids, mostly bilingual or even trilingual, with a strong international background. But this capacity should not be overestimated, and its positive impacts should not make the difficulties invisible. Children’s priorities are completely different from an adults’ ones, their view differ in many aspects. Children’s participation and parents’support are crucial and will determine the success of this project. Taking everything into account, and involving your offspring will make the best of this meaningful experience: happiness, stability and cultural fulfillment.

Where to live in … Shanghai!

At ASI Movers, we know how important it is to have our “home sweet home”. It is not an easy task to find a new one, especially in a big and unknown city. Furthermore, depending on your family status, your age, and your priorities, many criteria will ponder your choice.

Thanks to its 10-year experience in moving, as a Shanghai based relocation company, ASI Movers is now happy to provide you a small and comprehensive guide the main features and characteristics of Shanghai's main areas.

The Former French Concession

The Former French Concession (also called FFC) is one of the fanciest areas to live in. It is compound by Xuhui district, and a part of Huangpu district.

The FFC is filled with colonial style villas, most of the architecture is reminiscent of the art deco era (1920-40s), with their interior completely renovated for many of them. The streets are pretty silent, peaceful and lined with plane trees (as you can often see in the South of France). In some areas, you would not believe you are in China. This area is appreciated by the young expats,  also because you can find many little shops, bars and fancy restaurant serving occidental food.

However, due to its central geographic positioning and success, the FFC is quite expensive, considered rather upper class residential area.

  • Price range: Expensive
  • Life in the district: Many fancy cafes, bars and restaurants. Chinese alternatives can also be found.
  • Who: Young couple, it remains upper class. Not so many family live there, as many of the villas are divided in smaller apartments.
  • Transportation: Centrally located, the FCC is well served by the metro and buses. You can also easily access the city center walking or biking.
  • International Schools: No main international school is located in the FFC, but school buses exist, and the transportation system is convenient.

Jing'an

Jing’an is a popular district, close to the FFC. It is a great compromise for those who are interested in being in the core of the city, have a rather westernized way of living (due to the numerous occidental options available in terms of food, cafés, boutiques, etc.), for a lower budget than a house in the FFC.

Jing’an being busy and active (with fashionable boutiques, bars, and cafés), it is busier and less quiet than the FFC for instance. You can find there classical and pretty recent compounds, sometimes equipped with gyms and other facilities, as well as high-end houses.

  • Price range: Average to upper.
  • Life in the district: The most popular bars and restaurants are located there and some streets get quite animated at night with expats gathering to have dinner or a drink (the atmosphere remains healthy however). The neighborhood directly surrounding the Jing’an Temple itself also offers access to many shopping malls.
  • Who: Jing’an is popular among expat students, interns, young actives and couples.
  • Transportation: This district is well deserved by the metro. The fact that is central prevents its inhabitants for long journeys across the city.
  • International Schools: No major international school is located in the Jing’an district, and the latter is not close to the areas they developed in either.

Minhang

Out of the city, Minhang district is well appreciated by the expatriates family for its houses and villas, located inside secure compounds. Mostly comprised with a private garden, they offer some facilities for the whole family, and kids can go out of the home to visit their neighbor friends quite safely. However, offering larger green space and mansion options means being far from the city center, which might be inconvenient for the parents, taking into consideration the traffic congestion.

  • Transportation: This district is deserved by the end of some line subway, but you may have to consider take your car, at least to do a part of the trip.
  • International Schools: Major international school are located in Minhang district, such as the Lycée français de Shanghai, the British International School Shanghai and the American Shanghai School.

Changning

Two of the main places you would be looking for to live in are Hongqiao, which includes Gubei; and the surroundings of Zhongshan park. These residential areas are located in the Western part of Shanghai, a little bit out of the city center. These are rather popular area among expats, filled with high-end housing facilities. The perfect compromise for the family, at mid-way from the international school and the city center.

  • Price range: Average.
  • Life in the district: Western supermarkets and medical facilities are easily found in Changning, as well as chain restaurants and bars popular among adult expats. Nevertheless it is more of a residential and quiet area where you can find green spaces and pedestrian streets to hang around.
  • Who: Expat families, with an important population of Korean and Japanese in Gubei.
  • Transportation: Better served by public transportation than its west neighbor Minhang and Qingpu.
  • International Schools: A large panel of International Schools can be found in the area (Shanghai Community International School, Livingston American School, Shanghai United International School, among others).

Pudong

Located on the Eastern side of the Huangpu (river), it is also one of the largest districts: indeed, this district is as large as Singapour. Being very recent (before 1990s it looked nothing like today), you will easily spot the very modern architecture of the area closest to the river, which also is the financial and industrial heart of the city.

  • Price range: Average, this side of the river is generally cheaper than the other.
  • Life in the district: Office building but the district is becoming more and more residential if you are going further east, with a general aspect somehow reminiscent of the suburban American communities.
  • Who: Expat families eager to find a comfortable westernized life, being close to their office and schools.
  • Transportation: Far from the city center, yet well-deserved by the metro. It is also close to the Pudong International Airport.
  • International Schools: Many international schools also have a campus located in Pudong (Yew Chung International School, Lycée Français de Shanghai, British International School, Dulwich College, Shanghai Japanese School, among others). Even if you decide not to settle in the Pudong area, International Schools usually arrange buses to help to children living in the city to come to class.

About the Chinese Individual Income Tax

In any country you will live and work in, one question might be raised: where and under what kind of taxes will you be subjected?

This issue is appreciable for our individual customers, who will have their residency in China mainland. Some recent changes in the Chinese Individual Income Tax regulation have taken place in January 1, 2019. As such, it is important for newcomers as well as for those already living in China to be aware of the new regulation.

ASI Movers - as expats' best relocation partner from, to and within China - will offer a brief overview on the topic for those planning to move in China this year.

Who Is Subject to China's Individual Income Tax?

If you are planning to stay in mainland China for more than 183 days (cumulative), with a domicile or not, and in a single tax year, you will be therefore considered as a Chinese tax resident and must pay the Individual Income Tax. This will be derived from any income earned inside China as well as overseas income.

In the case of individuals who have no domicile in China but stay longer than 183 days (in a tax year), they shall be exempted from this Individual Income Tax if and only if they are out of the country for more than 30 consecutive days within the 6 years. To benefit from this exemption, this trip shall be notified to your local tax bureau in advance. Before the updated regulation, this exemption was known as the “Five-Year Tax Rule”, as the count was hold for 5 and not 6 years.

For those who are non-resident, and stay in China for less than 183 days (in a tax year), their China source income is still taxable.

Which Income Are Taken Into Consideration & At Which Rate?

Taxes will be collected, directly on wage, on the following income:

  • Income from wage, from your employment contract;

  • Income from contract or lease of a business;

  • Author’s remuneration and royalties;

  • Interest, dividends and profit distribution.

Under the new Income International Tax, these four categories followed the same seven brackets of progressive tax rates.

Commissions and bonuses are included in this calculation. Some deductions (up to monthly RMB 5.000) can be applied for the following expenses on the cumulative individual income:

  • Children education: 1.000 RMB monthly per child;

  • Continued education: 3.600 RMB/year;

  • Caring for the elderly (over 60 years old): 2.000 RMB/month;

  • Medical expenses for serious illness: less than 80.000 RMB;

  • Housing loan interest and housing rent: depend on the city.

 

The individual income tax impacts both local and foreign employees who received income from a working contract in China. These new regulations take into account the situation of the expatriate families with children or dependents elders.

Shanghai & Expatriates: a Long-Lasting Dynamic

Shanghai and expats’ relationship is as long as it is peculiar. From the 18th century premises, to nowadays dynamic foreign population, expats have been witnessing and participating in the city’s expansion. To understand why Shanghai is still one of the most attractive cities in China, ASI Movers - expats best relocation partner for more than 10 years - has thus decided to take a look back at the past but also have a look at what characterizes the expat population today.

Let’s explore who were and who are the foreigners living in Shanghai!

Shanghai: Expatriation as a Tradition

The Premises

It all started in the 18th century, when Chinese silk, porcelain and tea started to become popular in Great Britain and imported there. While Chinese rulers at the time were not interested in foreign goods, Great Britain nevertheless took advantage of the possibilities Chinese population represented and started to export Opium to the Middle Kingdom, as to re-equilibrate the balance. The infamous Opium Wars started just after, with the outcome we all know.
One of the many of the consequences has been the installation of a British autonomous settlement along the Huangpu River, whom « remains » are still visible today and among the most famous elements of Shanghai Patrimoine.

 

The Golden Age for Foreigners

American, French, and German quickly joined, forming a great foreign community and gathering in international concessions. The particularity of these concessions was that trade within their « borders » were not subject to Chinese law and could therefore trade freely.Then began a period prosperity for Shanghai’s « expat » community, not only in terms of trade, but also in terms of infrastructure (from new roads to fancy hotels, Shanghai looked nothing like the rest of China), making it the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in Asia. In the 1930s, Shanghai foreign communities already counted at least 60,000 individuals. Cultures started - if not to mix - to cohabit and westernized leisure places started to flourish (cafes, restaurants, international clubs, etc.) paving the ground for what Shanghai looks like today.

The Modern Times

This era of blossoming Shanghai took an end after the Japanese took over the country and did not resume when the Communist Party took power since the foreign way of living as well as the foreign communities were looked down as forming part of the « Four Old »: old habits, old culture, old customs and old way of thinking.
It’s only a decade after the first economic opening measures that took place in 1978 that Shanghai started to re-conquer its old status as the flagship of the revenge the country was going to take over its History. As such, investors were enjoined to take part in the cities’ development. From then on, Shanghai’s development has been impressive, and the degree of change has nearly no equivalent elsewhere in the world.
Job opportunities came along with investment opportunities as the country’s opening-up process increased.

What Is Shanghai Expats Community Like Nowadays?

Shanghai expat community is now China’s first (2017), before Beijing and Hefei, with about 150,000 foreigners registered as of 2019 (the real figures are thus believed to be greater).

In terms of country of origin, one might not find the ones who ran the international concessions back in the early 20th century, as Great Britain does not even appear in the top-10.

Japanese, US citizens and South-Koreans account for respectively 17,8%, 13,6% and 12,2% of the international community, Japanese and South Koreans alone accounting for nearly 30%.

Data source: Shen Xinyi / SHINE

The three main reasons for expats to relocate to Shanghai as in 2016 were work (50,6%), family reunion (26,5%) and education (10%) (Shen Xinyin/SHINE). This is aligned with Shanghai current dynamic as a hub for international trade and investment. Consequently, when one member of the family moves for career purpose, her/his family follows.

Shanghai also is home for many students eager to get familiar with Chinese language, way of doing business, and culture.

As for China is general, the average age of expats is 41.7 years old, there is a majority of male and most of them are in a relationship.

Nowadays, Shanghai has reconquered its reputation of Chinese most vibrant city. With business still flourishing, expats are naturally attracted by the opportunities it represents.

A younger population is also coming, with the idea of learning about the country but also be part of what is happening here in mind.

The city can be disarming for newcomers, as change happens fast and in impressive scales. Not only is it true for the city itself, some neighborhood disappearing and being replaced in a blink of an eye; it is also accurate when it comes to the business environment: it follows trends, and the opportunities available as well as the way one is exercising one’s job can vary rapidly. For someone to stay long-term, it means it requires to be adaptative, responsive to change.

However, that does not mean the city has no soul or deep identity, change is simply part of its nature and - as we have seen throughout its History - the constant is its dynamism.

ASI Movers has been helping expats relocating from, to, and within China for more than 10 years, accompanying them in their international journey with the most qualitative and comprehensive support. Because moving is always a challenge, we aim at making this journey the easiest possible for you!

The Expats’ Guide for CNY

What Is CNY About?

Chinese New Year (CNY) marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and Spring. As you might already know, each year is associated with a zodiac sign. In 2019, we enter the year of the pig which is synonym of luck, good fortune, wealth or more generally prosperity.

The celebrations are divided in 3 parts, the dates varying from one year to another since they follow the Lunar Calendar:

  • The so-called « Little Year » (Jan. 28 – Feb. 4th 2019) when are held the preparations of the actual New Year.
  • The « Spring Festival » (Feb. 5th – Feb. 15th 2019) which begins the celebration of the New Year.
  • The « Lantern Festival » (Feb. 16th – Feb. 19th 2019) which official date is Feb. 19th.

CNY is one of the two Chinese National Holidays and is the occasion for families to gather and celebrate together. As workers are returning home, the country practically shuts down for a period of 2 weeks up to 1 month. Factories and administrations close as the population is pouring into train stations and airports to travel across the country, and – more and more – to go abroad.

It is then not the best period to travel around China and we advise you to go abroad if you have the opportunity to do so. However, there are a few places in China where you can avoid the crowd. It is a good period for instance to visit Beijing or Shanghai as most of the population has headed back to the countryside, even though one can feel quite disoriented with seeing the busiest cities that empty.

 

We would advise you to refer to the China highlights' handful guide for CNY 2019. It will help you navigate through the most important and busiest time of the year more easily, especially if you are not familiar with the country, its traditions and thus its flows of population:

Traditions and Good Practices You Should Follow

People usually visit family members and relatives with their hands full of presents. Food and sweets are very popular gifts, such as fruits, cakes, biscuits, chocolates or candies. If you ever are invited to a CNY dinner and thus are thinking of offering gifts, the number is important as even ones symbolize happy occasions and odd ones unhappy occasions.

Elders and married couples also offer hongbaos to younger relatives and family members. You might already be familiar with the red enveloppes one gives with two hands in real life, and more and more digitally.

It is interesting to note that digital hongbaos are becoming more popular but also a communication tool for high-end brands. Tencent QQ for instance, offered the occasions to luxury companies to design branded red packets as for users to send them to their friends on the App. As such, a limited number of users had the occasion to send Ferrari, YSL Beauté or even Burberry hongbaos.

Keep in mind that 8 is the luckiest number in China while 4 is synonym for bad luck, if you have in mind to give a hongbao to someone.

Red is the color: from red items of clothing to red lanterns, including red couplets with the character  福 (happiness) held on the doors, as it symbolises prosperity.

As your trusted relocation partner, ASI Movers at helping you navigating through CNY peacefully. We are here at every step of your international journey to help live a happier and simpler life!

Debunking the Myths about China: What Expats Need to Know

When coming to a new country - namely China - or even just when being interested in one, it is normal for expats to have prejudices. Our education, the media, the History, the work from scholars that have penetrated common knowledge, etc. All of this contributes to help us build a general idea of a given country’s culture.

The hard part begins when one tries to overcome preconceptions to acquire a more genuine understanding of the host country. For business purposes, by curiosity, or simply because it eases the integration process, the reasons of such an initiative are numerous.

As a newcomer on the Chinese soil, or even if you have been here for several years, it is always interesting – and useful – to challenge your believes and to explore more about local psyche.

Cultural Awareness: Why Has It Become Essential?

Two groups are interested in the concept of cultural awareness: expatriates and companies.

  • The former do because being familiar with local customs and way of thinking help them living a balanced life, avoiding conflict, and predicting the general people attitudes' toward a given situation. Being able to accurately predict someone’s response to an event is essential for individuals to build stability in their life.
  • The latter do because the well-being of their employees often means more chances of them being more productive, more easily integrated in the company, and more smoothly transitioning to their new tasks. Expatriation failure (when an expatriation ends before its term or is considered not fully achieved) is most of the time linked with poor employee’s integration and great costs for the company.

As put by Kate Hutching in her article Cross Cultural Preparation of Australian Expatriates in Organizations in China: The Need to a Greater Attention to Training:

"The removal of national protectionist trade policies, de-regulation of international fiscal and monetary markets, and rapid advances in communications and distribution channels, has contributed to the increasing numbers of organisations that have decided to expand their operations across international borders in the last two decades.”

What could be overlooked in the past decades, i.e. cultural awareness, has now become essential as international assignments – or more broadly international mobility - are getting more common.

How to Increase One's Knowledge and Cultural Awareness?

Tons of means are available to increase one’s knowledge about Chinese psyche: reading the news, watching documentaries, looking for scholars’ works, meeting locals and discussing with them, attending training programs or conferences, etc.

Yet, the most important, apart from exposing oneself to this information, is to stay open to whatever could contradict one’s believes, past experiences, or what has been previously learnt. Open-mindedness is key when it comes to understanding your host country and effectively grasping what traits make up its personality.

Debunking the Myths

If one agrees with continue down this path, then the Harvard Business Review article "China Myths, China Facts" written by Erin Meyer and Elisabeth Yin Shen would be of great help. They identified 3 common myths that have been “perpetuated informally through stereotypes, and formally through management-training programs”.

  • Myth 1: China is a collectivist country. Even Hofstede’s works state “At a score of 20 China is a highly collectivist culture where people act in the interests of the group and not necessarily of themselves.”
    In this article however, the authors state that Chinese people, especially the younger generation, are more on the individualistic side of the spectrum. One of the interviewees argues that “as a child, I was punished for stepping out of the box and told to be ‘average’. But we have left this mentality with passion. In China, we are so eager to move ahead. Westerners often feel our style is pushy and aggressive”.
  • Myth 2: Long-term deliberation is preferred. However, for whoever has been working in China, or has simply followed the past decades’ economic growth, it appears obvious that Chinese psyche now tends to “real-time reaction” as stated in the article, and quick decision making. This tendency is in accordance with the government aiming at fostering innovation.
  • Myth 3: Chinese people are risk averse. However, given the decision process is usually quick, risk tolerance is nowadays quite high in China. One of the interviewee stated that the country’s growing GDP is a proof that “the level of entrepreneurship and risk taking” is high.

Understanding the ever-changing psyche of China is key when it comes to not being lost in the Middle Kingdom. Debunking myths as the Harvard Business Review did is very useful for expats aiming at being at ease in the country, and being successful socially and professionally.

At ASI Movers, we aim at making your relocation process the smoothest possible, and this is aligned with providing you the best insights on the country’s state of mind. After more than 10 years operating in China, we are aware of the challenges one faces, and work hand in hand with our customers to provide them the best services and support possible.

Being a Foreign Entrepreneur in China: a Guideline

If you are to come to China or are already here, there are great chances that the vitality of the business environment plants the seed of entrepreneurship in your brain.

Why not start a company in China?

Chinese Government is well aware of the potential entrepreneurship represents, as well as the role it played in the country’s development.

Accounting for 60% of the nation’s GDP, and providing 80% of the jobs, the private sector is essential to Chinese economy. Even though some argue that it has been the consequence of the Middle Kingdom’s development rather than its cause, entrepreneurship remains key.

The truth lying in one or the other of these two causality chains, it still remains that many foreigners have had the envy to try to make it in China.

ASI Movers is aware of this tendency. Having moved thousands of expats throughout our 10 years of activity, we have decided to introduce you the Chinese entrepreneurial environment and the opportunities of founding your own business here.

The Entrepreneurship Landscape in China

Background

For many years, China bore the image of a state-owned economy for observers outside its borders. It is still true that entering an industry dominated by a state-owned enterprise is quite risky since. The latter will indeed benefit from financial advantages, and connections ensuring its quasi monopoly on the market.

Yet, the reforms initiated in 1978 and which developed in the 1980s paved the ground for an economy based on private companies and entrepreneurship.

The 1990s have seen the rise of the Internet entrepreneurs. The 2000s saw the emergence – apart for the stable growth of the Internet and mobile technology sectors – of entrepreneurship in sectors such as energy, healthcare, financial services, or consumer retail among others.

Nowadays, China is the second largest host of so called unicorns i.e. non-listed companies valued at over USD 1Bn.

Entrepreneurship Culture in China

The entrepreneurship culture in China is different from the one in the West, firstly because of the environmental and institutional context. China’s economy being driven by the state, young innovative companies having connections bear a huge competitive advantage compared to their peers. Investing in political connections and network is thus as important as securing monetary investment.

It mainly came from the urban youth raised in the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of the economic reforms.
Young entrepreneurs are partisans of the “trial and error” technique and do not consider a failure as the end of their promising career, but rather as a step in their journey. They are less risk averse and more opportunistic than their peers, they also focus largely on personal success.

An aspect that might be considered as a drawback by foreigners is the education system. The latter shaped the locals' mind: rote learning is the core of their school life. One might thus think it can undermine Chinese entrepreneurs’ critical thinking spirit.

Not only is the entrepreneurial spirit different from the one in the West, the projects developed also bear specific features:

  • Integrated Innovation i.e. adapting an existing (often Western) business to Chinese market is huge.
  • Answering unmet needs in, specifically, Chinese society is the main focus (mainly due to the the relative closure of the Internet, some Western businesses did not make their way into China, leaving an empty space for Chinese companies).
  • Monitoring and acting in accordance with the government policies and interventions is important in China. Entrepreneurs should target industries defined as key by the latter as to benefit from the current environment.
  • Combining online commerce and marketing with relevant infrastructures and forwarding system enables the products to be delivered anywhere in a very short time. This feature is key in China.

Foreign Entrepreneurs in China

As China is becoming more and more interested in welcoming foreign talents, the environment for foreign entrepreneurs is warmer and warmer. It also participates in giving a positive image of China overseas.

Some local governments such as the city of Hangzhou even provide incentives for foreign entrepreneurs to come: in 2018, the city of Hangzhou offered subsidies ranging from RMB 200,000 to RMB 5 million to foreign entrepreneurs bringing projects fitting the city development path.

One of the first advice one could give to a soon to be foreign entrepreneur in China is to not blindly see the Middle Kingdom as a huge market of 1.3 billion people of which even 1% market share is profitable.

To successfully start a business in China

  • Learn about your customers: Chinese habits, tastes, mindset is different from the one in the West. Ensure there is a market for your potential offer, and adapt your practices and products if necessary.
  • Take advantage of the barter economy i.e. non-monetary reciprocity, which recent resurgence is mainly due to insecurity, the rise of the Internet and the importance networking has taken (especially in China where the concept of Guanxi dominates).

How to Set-Up a Business in China

If you are a Laowai eager to sell your products or services in China, you can choose between 3 kinds of businesses:

  • Joint Venture
  • Representative Office
  • WFOE or Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises

The landscape for entrepreneurship seems paved with gold for the ones keen to really understand the peculiarities of the Chinese economy, get inspired by the local features of the private companies, and explore the opportunities, them being obvious or less visible.

Starting a business in China is a definitely a worth it experience. For you to focus on this life project, ASI Movers is here to provide you the smoothest moving process possible. Focus on what matters, we take care of the rest!

Telethon 2018 organized by Shanghai Accueil

Yesterday, Shanghai Accueil organized a charity dinner-aperitif for the benefit of the Téléthon 2018, the occasion for ASI Movers - who happily joined forces with Madeleine Bakery of this event - to raise awareness on this cause. The Téléthon is a French charity event aimed at raising awareness and money to fight against rare illnesses.

Since the FIAFE (Fédération Internationale des Accueils Français et Francophones d’Expatriés - International Federation of the Welcomes of French and French Speaking Expatriates) committed to support and raise found in favor of the AFM Téléthon, Shanghai Accueil (whose mission consists in welcoming French and French speaking expatriates in Shanghai) followed suit.

Shanghai Accueil organized a series of events with several partners:

  • A dinner cocktail on Nov. 30th with the UFE Shanghai;
  • A partnership with Epermarket from Dec. 1 until Dec. 8th.
  • A dinner aperitif at Madeleine Kerry Center in partnership with Madeleine and ASI Movers. Yesterday's profits have been fully recontributed to the Téléthon.

These events and operations demonstrate the commitment of Shanghai French and international communities to such important causes. The mobilisation is indeed very important in Asia, and more particularly in China.

Christmas Abroad – How to Make the Best of It

As more and more Christmas decorations are appearing in Shanghai streets, stores, and restaurants, ASI Movers has decided to anticipate a bit on the festive season and explore what it means for an expat to celebrate Christmas abroad, more precisely in China. What are the challenges? What are the pros? How to make the most of this season even though one is likely far from many family members? How to recreate the cheerful atmosphere we enjoy at home?

Here are the answers!

Christmas Abroad: How to Make the Best of It?

Festive season, especially Christmas, is a friends & family moment. You gather around good food and dive into the warm atmosphere coming with the end of the year and its traditions.

However, when you live miles away from friends and family who stayed home (and it might be the first time for you to be away from them) the celebrations can be a bit bitter.

Moreover, you might have ended up in a country where the traditions are way different from the ones you are used to and which comfort you (if there even are!).

How then overcome the spleen that can arise from such a situation, and make the most of living festive season abroad?

  • Call your close ones back home but avoid drowning into nostalgia. It is important to schedule phone calls and skype sessions with your friends and family back home. It is essential to feel that you are part of the events that are happening there, see the people you haven’t seen in a while, and get some of the vibe you are missing in your location flowing through your phone or computer screen. However, do not let yourself completely absorbed by nostalgia, that’s our next point.

  • Live the foreign experience. Take advantage of being in a foreign environment to explore what celebrating Christmas there, even if the actual celebrations are very few. In most cities in the world, there is a Christmas market where you can not only feel the original atmosphere of the season, but also where you can experience different culture’s way of celebrating the end of the year.

  • Gather with the foreign community. Chances are you are not the only expat in the city you live in, not even in the neighborhood. Many local expats associations and organizations offer you the opportunity to celebrate with other people like you, who might go through the same hardships. Social media groups (Facebook, WeChat) are also a great way to connect with people.

  • Try incorporate new rituals with each destination you relocate to. If you have been or are likely to experience living in several places through your life try collecting Christmas traditions the same way you do with objects. It is a great way to remember your past experiences but also explore and thus get more familiar with the place you now live in.

Celebrating Christmas in China

Harbin (see picture above) hosts an Ice and Snow Festival which lasts 2 months (Dec. 20th - Feb. 28th) and which great opening is scheduled on Jan. 5. It features impressive ice sculpture (the most famous attraction of the city), fireworks, ice lanterns, winter swimming, fishing, skiing, sledding, and more related activities. From Dec. 24th-30th, you can enjoy a 50% discount to access the ice sculpture exhibition as it is still in trial period (90% of the snow craving is finished). Even though Christmas and New Year's Eve are less popular in China than in the West, the city is decorated accordingly.

 

 

Only 1% of Chinese people is Christian and thus is traditionally celebrating Christmas. This community is very active in preparing Jesus’ birth, which counterbalances the fact that most of the remaining population do not know the meaning of the event. There is no public holiday on this period and people work on December 25th.

However, as for many other things coming from the West, Santa Claus made his way in the Middle Kingdom.
He even has a Chinese name: Shen Dan Lao Ren (圣诞老人) literally Old Christmas Man. In big cities, Christmas trees, decorations and markets are blooming, in rural areas it remains uncommon.
Giving apples on Christmas Eve is becoming more and more popular as the latter's translation - Ping'an Ye (平安夜), literally peaceful evening - sounds like píngguǒ (苹果), apple.

Another take-off from the West is family and friends gatherings at someone’s house, cafes, KTvs, etc. Family reunions cannot be compared to the big family reunions we are used to in the West but the tradition is slowly making its way in China. Young couples associate Christmas it with a romantic event, exchange gifts and date.

Celebrating Christmas in Shanghai

  • Shanghai being the vivid city it is, with many malls, fancy shops and restaurants, as well as a place where the West meets the East, Christmas is visible in the streets (light garlands, Christmas trees, etc.) and the occasion for shopping opportunities. Open-hours are extended during the period in many shops, Christmas sales are held (Nov. and early Dec.).
  • Several Christmas markets are organized around the city, selling Christmas products & gifts, food and drinks. Search Paulaner's Christkindlmarkt, Jing'an Christkindlmarkt and Jiashan Market for more information.
  • If you are Christian, check local churches for Christmas mass, many of them even hold English religious services.
  • Book a table in an international hotel or restaurant to enjoy a great Christmas dinner, or gather with friends in a bar for a more festive atmosphere surrounded by fellow expats.
  • If you prefer to stay at home, e-markets and stores dedicated to expats will provide you the ingredients necessary to reproduce the traditional dishes you crave during this period.

Even though far from being the major event it is in the West, Christmas is gaining popularity in China. Some elements have been adapted to local tastes and sensibility, while other will really give you the occasion to experience an atmosphere reminiscent to home. Go around the city, enjoy the decorations, taste good food in one of the Christmas markets and gather with friends for nice dinners and drinks, that's the Christmas recipe!