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Back home to cut out new career

ALLEN Zhong, 26, is one of the many "returning turtles" who came back to China after the global financial crisis. "Returning turtle" is a term that refers to overseas Chinese who come home for better opportunities. Many of them, once elites admired by others, lost jobs in the overseas finance world.

Fortunately, Zhong worked in the logistics industry after finishing a public health masters degree in America. The industry was much less affected by the crisis and Zhong was secure in his job even during the crisis.

"Of course, the situation in my industry is bad, like many others, but not as bad as many speculated," says Zhong.

The Shanghai native has been back in the city for five weeks and has found himself occupied with a crazy schedule that includes many social events with potential customers in pubs after regular work time.

Zhong works for a long-standing American logistics firm which always wanted to expand their market to Asia, and especially China. And the desire has turned to reality, partially thanks to the global downturn.

"We know we are a little late to enter this market," says Zhong, who was sent back to Shanghai to establish a representative office for his company, with only one other colleague.

"The financial crisis provides a great opportunity for us since it means a restructuring of the whole industry. We have a long history and many orders in America and Europe, but we are quite new in Asia, with only a few clients from Japan," he says.

Zhong, a graduate of Shanghai's prestigious Fudan University before studying abroad in America, was a typically good Chinese student who studied all the time.

Now with his colleague, he has set up an office from zero, covering tasks that he never imagined he would be doing and encountering all kinds of obstacles distinct from those in America.

He also has to play a lot, leading a lifestyle quite different to that he had when last here as a student.

Currently, the company deals mostly with clients from Europe, America and Japan who have some business in China, but their biggest goal "is to get new Chinese customers."

In order to secure this business, Zhong and his colleague have been working around the clock to keep in touch with them, even after work. Zhong often dines with potential clients "to get closer with them so it's easier to talk about business."

And this sort of approach necessitates Zhong frequently going to pubs with his potential customers, although he is not the nightlife type in his personal life.

"What can I do? I just hope it gets better in the future as we expand the market and get more customers. It's always more difficult in the beginning," concludes Zhong, withheavy black eyes.


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