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Vietnamese cross-border workers ride Chinese boom

2017-November-14       Source: Xinhuanet.com

It is the busiest time of the year at Nguyen Thien Kam Wan's store in Dongxing, a Chinese border city.

It is the busiest time of the year at Nguyen Thien Kam Wan's store in Dongxing, a Chinese border city.

Ahead of Singles' Day, the Vietnamese businesswoman has been shipping Vietnamese specialties to Chinese buyers, who placed orders for more than 2,000 bags of dried jackfruit alone.

"It is larger than our sales in a normal month," she says.

For years, Nguyen Thien Kam Wan has crossed the border from the Vietnamese city of Mong Cai to Dongxing in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region every morning, returning home after work. More than 10,000 Vietnamese cross-border workers fill a variety of jobs in Dongxing.

She received less than 100 U.S. dollars a day when doing the business in 2003, but now her daily revenue surpasses 500 U.S. dollars, partly thanks to the e-commerce platform Taobao, she and her Chinese friend have used since 2014.

"Back in 2003, I didn't see many Vietnamese business people like me, and I always finished work early. But now, customs has extended the closure time to 7 p.m." she says.

Since the 1990s, China has allowed border residents to conduct small-scale cross-border business, attracting Vietnamese residents to do business in Dongxing. In 2012, the Dongxing city government allowed Vietnamese residents to open stores in the city, fueling a surge in the number of workers crossing the border.

China's miraculous economic growth since the country's opening up and reform in the late 1970s has benefited its neighbors, including Vietnam, especially in border trade, according to Phung Thi Hue with the Institute of Chinese Studies of Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition to traditional trade in goods, some border residents of the two countries have seized opportunities in China's booming e-commerce, said the senior researcher.

Figures from the data provider Syntun show that China's major e-commerce sites recorded nearly 254 billion yuan (about 38 billion U.S. dollars) in sales over 24 hours this Saturday, named Singles' Day because the date 11-11 resembles four "bare sticks," a term used in China to refer to single people.

Besides commuters, an increasing number of Vietnamese workers have been stationed in factories of Guangxi's border cities such as Dongxing and Pingxiang.

Dongxing began implementing a pilot scheme in 2015 that allows eight local factories to hire about 1,000 Vietnamese employees for a single stay of up to six months. Now, more than 4,000 Vietnamese workers are hired by nearly 20 factories in the city as the scheme expanded. Pingxiang began the pilot in early 2017.

As a beneficiary of the pilot, Hoang Chunyan works at Dongxing Yicheng Food Development Company, earning at least 2,000 yuan a month, higher than a similar job would offer in her hometown.

The company, with more than 300 Vietnamese workers in the peak season, provides them with accident insurance, giving the machine workers peace of mind.

Vietnamese employees help relieve the shortage of blue collar workers in border areas, according to Jiang Liansheng, head of Guangxi's commerce department.

"China's Belt and Road Initiative will bring closer cooperation between the two countries and the border trade will be more prosperous," Phung Thi Hue said."Therefore, more and more Vietnamese people will seek jobs in China."

Editor: Jasmine

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