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November 2, 2018

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Home » City specials » Chengdu

Chengdu has pandas and much more ...

Chengdu has long been famous for its adorable pandas, mouth-numbing spicy Sichuan cuisine and fiery hotpot. And a megacity in west China had more reasons to be cheerful when the region’s newborn baby pandas made their first appearance at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding during the National Day holiday.

But Chengdu has much more to offer than just pandas. It has topped the list of the happiest cities in China for many years.

As the city is becoming more open and inclusive, Chengdu’s level of internationalization is also rising year by year and is attracting more foreigners to take up residence in the capital of Sichuan Province.

Londoner Daisy Peak moved to Chengdu three years ago for an internship, after completing Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and in Ningbo, eastern China’s Zhejiang Province.

She married a man from Sichuan and set up Laowai Here, a human resources company which recruits foreign talent for local companies and helps foreigners settle in the city.

“For people who have never been here before, Chengdu is considered to be a central city in the southwest. Everyone can speak about the things written on the city’s name card, which are the panda and hotpot,” said Peak. “But for people who have lived here for a while, the city has another kind of charm. Chengdu has a long history of being an open and friendly city. It offers an inclusive atmosphere, a cozy pace of life and international business environment.”

Peak describes her life in Chengdu as “very Chinese.”

“I go and visit my popo (mother-in-law) on the weekends,” she said. “I walk my dog, play cards with friends while drinking 5 yuan (72 US cents) tea in a local community. Eat some chuanchuan (a type of hotpot with skewers of meat and vegetables) after work with my colleagues. Life is good.”

Another convert is Simon Poulsen, a consultant working for an agricultural science park in Denmark, who has focused on Chengdu for the past four or five years, after 26 visits to China.

“Chengdu has been mentioned quite a lot in the Western business media as one of the fastest growing cities in the world,” he said.

“And things are moving to the west (of China) as everything on the east coast is becoming expensive.”

He came looking for an ideal location to start his company’s China office, which he hopes could replace its temporary regional office in Bangkok.

“I visited several cities in China. A handful of pig farming companies in Chengdu showed interest in buying Danish high-tech farming technology, and we have great potential for further collaboration,” he said.

“Also another reason for us to come here is because this is where EUPIC (the EU Project Innovation Center) is headquartered and we have great support from them.”

EUPIC is an international cooperation platform jointly established by China and the EU, headquartered in Chengdu. With an extensive network in the EU and in China, EUPIC facilitates the soft landing of EU companies in China and helps Chinese companies expand abroad.

For the past 10 years, it has hosted the annual EU-China Business and Technology Cooperation Fair in Chengdu, which offers matchmaking and showcasing opportunities for EU and Chinese companies.

The Business and Innovation Center for China-Europe Cooperation (CCEC) was launched in May last year collectively by the EU commission, Chengdu government, Chengdu High-Tech Industrial Development Zone and also EUPIC.

With its services covering 18 provinces in western and northern China, and 65 countries around the world, CCEC has become a comprehensive platform for Sichuan Province and the other cities in west China seeking collaboration in trade, investment and technology with the EU.

“We hope to be a home base for all EU companies attempting to enter the Chinese market,” Lara Zheng, the EUPIC president’s executive assistant, told Shanghai Daily.

The 194-meter-high CCEC building in the Chengdu High-Tech Industrial Development Zone marks a new beginning for EU-China cooperation.

The 210,000-square-meter CCEC includes different functional areas such as exhibition halls, restaurants, hotel and office space.

More than 40 companies, institutions and representative offices from the EU and other countries have already moved in.

Zheng from EUPIC told Shanghai Daily that cooperation between the EU and China has been shifting from purely trade to technology transfer, technology innovation and technology co-development.

“I think in future financial investment will be an emerging area for companies in China and Europe,” she said.

“We organized the first EU-China Tech Scale-up Summit in May this year, allowing startups to have roadshows for investors from both sides. Chengdu has been known to the world, recognized by more and more people abroad.”

Chengdu has the largest number of Fortune 500 companies, greatest amount of investment and widest range of invested industry among all cities in central and western China.

So far, there are 285 Fortune 500 companies and 17 consulate-generals in Chengdu. From January to June this year, a total of US$6.3 billion foreign capital has been invested in Chengdu, while 255 new foreign investment projects were approved.


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