Why Foreigners Enjoy Living in Chengdu

Authors: Wall Street Journal

2019-03-10

In Chengdu, they have all built a richer life experience with more possibilities.
Canadian Trevor James runs a Youtube channel called The Food Ranger from China. Six years ago, he moved to Chengdu, a mega city in central and western China, where he began his grand plan to eat as much Chinese food as he could.
James chose Chengdu because of its unique cuisine. Chengdu was awarded the City of Gastronomy by the United Nations in 2010. The city's original Sichuan cuisine is often represented by cubed chicken with peanuts, pork lungs in chili sauce and mapo tofu.
mapo tofu
James's first food trip to China exceeded his expectations. After six years, he has settled in Chengdu. He gave himself a Chinese name, Chang Le, which means to be always happy.
While good food makes most people happy, there is something particularly special about Sichuan cuisine. Jonathan Kott, from Seattle, knows this well. Kott, whose Chinese name is Jiang Nan, first came to Chengdu as an exchange student in January 1998, and he has lived there ever since.
"I like pepper. Therefore, delicious Sichuan cuisine is quite attractive," said Jiang Nan.
Aside from its delicious food, Jiang Nan also said that changes in China have made him feel comfortable enough to stay in the country. What impressed him most was that transportation has become so effective.
"It took me more than 20 hours to fly to Chengdu for the first time, after transferring twice. It was very hard. Now there are more and more non-stop flights to Chengdu. If I travel within China, it is easy. The high-speed train is very convenient and it is as fast as the plane, not bumpy or late. When I go to the U.S., I miss China's high-speed train very much."
Just as Jiang Nan said, Chengdu, a national central city that sits nearer to Europe than other Chinese cities, is becoming an international hub connecting Europe and Asia.
chendu airport
By the end of 2018, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport had 335 routes available, including 114 international (regional) routes, covering five continents around the world. In addition, Tianfu International Airport, Chengdu's second airport, is under construction. By 2020, Chengdu will be the third city with two airports in the Chinese mainland.
As modern transportation makes long-distance travel quicker, international traffic corridors have quietly transformed into international economic corridors. At present, Chengdu has established economic and trade relations with 228 countries and regions in the world.
chengdu
Like Jiang Nan, German Erik Ackner also went to Chengdu as an exchange student in 2010, at 23 years old. Now he is the project director of Startupbootcamp's (SBC) Chengdu office. He has transformed over time from an ordinary foreign student to an entrepreneur.
He said that Chengdu's tolerance, friendliness and innovative spirit make him feel that the city is preferable to living in Germany.
As Europe's top one startup accelerator with the most widely distributed projects around the world, SBC has seen Chengdu's broad prospects and development potential long ago, and set up a branch in Chengdu in 2016. Since then, SBC is officially headquartered in Chengdu.
Ackner said SBC's Chengdu office focuses on digital health and is making efforts to build a two-channel global innovation in this field.
And SBC is just one of many foreign companies that have set up business in Chengdu. Chengdu Tianfu Software Park is the fastest growing professional software industry park in China. Several of the world's most respected enterprises, including IBM, SAP, NEC, GE, NCSI, Maersk, Siemens, Ericsson and DHL have offices in the park.
Despit a busy schedule, Ackner goes to work by bike every day. "Can you imagine that I commute every day for more than 20 kilometers," said Ackner. He rides through an ancient temple, the streets and alleys of the old city and Chengdu's beautiful city park—and then to the newly-built commercial office center. His rides to work are both fascinating and unique, he said.
Chengdu is a green city working towards its ecological development. Now Chengdu is building the Tianfu Greenway, with a total length of nearly 17,000 kilometers, connecting Chengdu's rivers, parks, communities and cultural centers.
greenway
The Greenway will not only make bike riding more convenient and comfortable, but also ensure the overall ecological environment of Chengdu. The Asian Development Bank has rated Chengdu as the most livable city in China.
With more and more foreigners coming to Chengdu, Liam James King, from Liverpool in the U.K., and his companions saw opportunities for business in the city. Their LAOWAI HERE company was established in 2014, providing a foreign talent human resource service to Chinese companies in the region.
Today, LAOWAI HERE has not only helped foreigners successfully integrate into Chengdu, but also held a series of cultural activities overseas and in Chengdu to promote the city's culture and enterprises, attracting more high-level foreign talents to work and start businesses in Chengdu.
In April 2018, Chengdu was selected as one of the Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Expats by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, PRC, along with Beijing, Shanghai and other established first-tier cities in China.
Chengdu has excelled at retaining foreign talent, and, the city is the preferred choice for many looking to settle in China permanently.
chengdu
According to data from the Exit and Entry Administration Division of Chengdu PSB's briefing in 2018, the number of foreigners living in Chengdu is increasing year by year, with the largest number being Americans, followed by South Koreans, British and Canadians.
Some come for delicious food, some for study and others to enjoy the city's scenery or culture. While their reasons for arriving are different, their reason for staying in the city is the same—in Chengdu, they have all built a richer life experience with more possibilities.

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