Oz expats make waves in smaller Chinese cities

Published:  17 Jan at 6 PM
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China is still a favourite destination for expats from across the world, but some of the more adventurous are ignoring the lure of the massive cities and starting up businesses in smaller towns.

For almost a decade, China’s mystery, amazingly long history and unique culture has drawn expats from the West to its capital and other major cities. Would-be entrepreneurs in the tech sector, English teachers and digital nomads have flocked to the formerly closed land and, in the main, have found themselves more than welcome. However, for those who think Beijing and Shanghai are too Western, smaller cities such as Chongqing and Chengdu give opportunities to those in less fashionable trades to make their mark.

One such is an Australian expat and entrepreneur who arrived in Chengdu three years ago and set up a business promoting Aussie soft drinks and beer to the locals. Given that European beer brands were already popular, it wasn’t an easy task, but his persuasive qualities won out in the end by hitting the trade’s grassroots including restaurants, bars and beer-tasting events. Eventually, Aussie beers became popular with the increasing numbers of middle-class Chinese, in spite of the odds against them.

Another Queensland-born expat now has a successful restaurant located in a Chongqing shopping mall. He’d moved to the city four years ago to learn more about Chinese culture and cuisine and decided to introduce his own culinary creations to a baffled local clientele. His first offering was a spicy beefburger and his latest inspiration resulted in a hotpot burger – Australian beef mixed in with sesame oil, deep fried lotus root and hot pot sauce.
His customers loved it and local media chimed in to publicise his invention. Nowadays he’s invited to cater for charity events and private parties as well as teaching at Chinese cooking schools in the city, and doesn’t regret his move for one minute.
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