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Hangzhou seeks to become more international


08-28-2016 12:46 BJT

Full coverage: G20 Hangzhou Summit

Like many other major Chinese cities, Hangzhou is looking overseas. That's because competition for capital, technology and experienced human resources is now global. Events like the G20 Summit and the 2022 Asian Games will go along way to putting the city firmly on the world map. But what's the city's long-term plan, and how will the recent upgrades ultimately benefit the local people.

Lucas Rondez is the CEO of an app called “Nihao”, which means “Hello”, the first Chinese phrase most foreigners learn to speak.

"I think I want to have foreigners to live in China much easier. Because I’ve been living in China for close to 10 years. I know there’s a lot of difficulties, especially in second and third tier cities," he said.

Besides language difficulties, the Swiss businessman says many services in China are still not open to foreigners, like booking a train ticket online. He hopes his app can improve foreigners' lives here.

"A lot of people coming to China with a lot of dreams in the mind. I mean it’s no longer “US dreams”, more of the “Chinese dreams” today. So a lot of people come here with a lot of expectation. They don’t know maybe exactly what they want to do. So they want to find a path in the career, maybe a way to make a new company, or a start-up," Lucas Rondez said.

Lucas says Hangzhou has changed a lot. But there’s still a long way to go.

"I think we are really at the beginning. It takes time to make a city well known abroad. I think through the G20, through the Asian Olympic Games. It is the best way. It’s definitely the incredible way to make it well known abroad. But I think on the infrastructure, on the opportunities and everything. We are at the very beginning to make the city more international," Lucas Rondez said.

Hosting the G20 Summit is an important chance for Hangzhou to promote its image as an international city. The local government hopes a more open city will not only attract investment and business opportunities, but also more high-level, talented professionals from other countries.

"The local government aims to build Hangzhou into a world city with outstanding functions. The city would become a global attraction for leisure, sightseeing, international conferences and exhibitions, in addition to Hangzhou’s position as a global center for the Internet industry. The city is also focusing on developing its cultural creativity industry," said professor Chen Jianjun, School of Public Affairs, Zhejiang University.

Hangzhou is the capital of Eastern Zhejiang Province, one of China’s most developed regions. The reason for such high-speed growth is Zhejiang’s dynamic private sector. 138 out of China’s top 500 private enterprises are from Zhejiang. Over 6 million Zhejiang merchants are doing business across China. And almost 2 million people from the province are doing business around the world.

"More enterprises in Zhejiang hope to expand their business abroad. Hangzhou’s name brand as an international city will help these enterprises do that. Hangzhou is also the innovation center of Zhejiang province, with its advantages in the internet and e-commerce sector, more people are starting up businesses here," professor Chen Jianjun said.

"I would love to see more entrepreneurs from abroad choosing Hangzhou as the place to base, maybe not Shanghai and Beijing. Because here is very attractive. There’s like a lot of government support. There’s a lot of companies which you can talk together, communicate and share experiences. So I would love to see more and more people coming here to start a business," Lucas said.

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