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British man sets up baby food business in Kashgar


05-30-2016 05:26 BJT

Most foreigners in China choose to stay in big cities where they can get by without speaking Chinese. But not this man. Michael Marsden has settled in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and has impressively learnt both Mandarin and the city's local dialect. He has started his own baby food business - the first foreign company in the city of Kashgar - setting a trend that might change the economic landscape.

A 700-thousand US dollar investment. Eleanor’s Garden Baby Food is the first foreign company in the Kashgar Economic Development Zone. This makes Michael Marsden, who left Oxford with a biology degree, somewhat of a trendsetter in the region.

From apples, pears to sweet potatoes, Mr Marsden is re-defining business opportunities in Kashgar.

Despite years of baby food safety scandals in China, he believes that Xinjiang’s reputation for quality fruit and a clean environment, backed by a foreign family’s story, will convince China’s middle classes to trust a domestically produced brand .

"These vegetables are from...with pure spring water. It's a brilliant opportunity for us to set up our business in Kashgar," Marsden said.

Having lived here for 15 years, Mr Marsden has made many local friends. And more impressively, he picked up both Mandarin and Uyghur dialect.

" It's great, he can speak our language, uyghur language, and he is very nice to us, so we are very happy to work for him"
And Mr. Marsden's attachment to Kashgar is far more than business. It's where he met his wife, Kimberly, an American. Now with two children in tow, it seems like the couple will not be relocating any time soon.

"If ...I would never have met her, originally I'm from England, and she's from America."

Mr Marsden and his wife have gotten accustomed to local life. Kimberley has even become an expert in cooking Xinjiang cuisine.

"One of my favourite things...I think it's very tasty..."

Little foreigners have set foot in the city. After 15 years, Mr Marsden remains Kashgar's sole British adult. But for him, this city along the ancient Silk Road, is indeed a land of opportunities. After all, it is where he found his career, friends, and family.

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