Editor's Note: The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be held in Beijing from April 25th to 27th, 2019. In the six years since its inception, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has had a far-reaching and profound impact on the world. The BRI has played an important role in promoting closer ties between countries, and boosting global growth.
Five young expats from five continents that have been living and working in Guangdong during the past six years gave exclusive interviews to Nanfang Daily and News GD. Below is one of their five stories.
It has been 16 years since Felly came from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Guangzhou, China seeking business opportunities. He sells cheap yet high quality Guangdong products to Africa and meanwhile looks for producers in China on behalf of African clients.
This young man’s bond with Guangzhou dates back to his childhood. In 1997, his father came to Guangzhou to attend the China Import and Export Fair and when he returned home, he told Felly that Guangzhou would become very prosperous. That left a deep impression on Felly.
Felly is making a purchase at an electric appliances mall in Guangzhou. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
By 2003, Felly was in his 20s, and came alone to China to seek a living. It was an exhausting journey. He flew first from Kinshasa to Kenya, then on to Hong Kong and finally arrived in Guangzhou by train. The whole journey took him two days.
After several months, under the guidance of his friend, Felly sold his first batch of televisions from Guangdong to Africa. He benefited a lot from this transaction, and afterwards he began to ship more ‘Made-in-Guangdong’ products like motorcycles, household appliances and ceramics to his home.
The three years from 2005 to 2008 saw Felly’s career take off. Due to huge market demand, he had to arrange two or three shipments every month.
Felly at his office. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
In order to better integrate, Felly often studies Chinese with his friends. Within just a year, he managed to get a grasp of Chinese daily conversation and after that, he also began to learn Cantonese, which has helped open a lot of doors for Felly. This year is Felly’s 16th in Guangzhou. In his eyes, this city is full of vigour and change.
Felly is a voluntary part-time interpreter too, helping his countrymen more quickly adapt to Guangzhou life. An example of this is the free consultation he offers for those merchants who are not familiar with the procedure of customs clearance for export. On numerous occasions he has helped his countrymen cope with difficult situations like lost passports, by contacting relevant institutions such as the police, consulate general in Guangzhou, and assist them handling the paperwork.
Felly advises traders who have just arrived in Guangzhou, to learn Chinese laws and regulations, social governance model and local customs and practices as soon as possible as well as make friends with local people.
Felly shows his footbal to the camera. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
Every month, Felly goes on a trip to see different parts of China. When he has time, he likes to play football with his friends. He even won the Guangzhou Consulate Championship Football Tournament.
Felly goes back to the Democratic Republic of Congo to reunite with his mother every Spring Festival. He will prepare some gifts before departure, including tea from Guangdong and clothes printed with words like Guangzhou. His mother is so proud when she receives them.
As the Belt and Road Initiative goes forward, in terms of infrastructure construction, mining and such there is more and more Chinese influence being felt, including many Guangdong enterprises.
Felly shows his trophy to the camera. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
Felly’s trip back to his hometown at the early beginning of this year has left a deep impression on him. Inside a shopping mall of Kinshasa, he heard some Chinese popular songs playing and a few local people talking in fluent Chinese in a shop.
Felly said that many parents in the Democratic Republic of Congo would encourage their kids to learn Chinese. Quite a number of his family members have come to China for further study and the younger generation is also working hard on their Chinese and hopes to study or work in China.
Although the number of opportunities in his hometown are growing, Felly is used to life in Guangdong and is unwilling to give up his hard won achievements here. He also hopes to have a family and settle down in Guangzhou. He knows that it may not always be easy but he will keep striving to move forward while he is Guangzhou.
Felly in an electric appliances mall. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
Reporters: Gong Chunhui, Hu Liangguang
Video & photography: Zheng Yijian, Dong Tianjian
Video editing: Zhou Xinyu, Li Jiajing, Zhang Qingliang (intern)
English version: Monica Liu
English editor: Simon Haywood