Chen Jian: Building commodity businesses in Portugal and China
Editor's note: East China's Zhejiang province is renowned for its large international population. Aloft on the wings of China's reform and opening-up policy, a group of Zhejiang people have gone abroad to make a living since the 1970s. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the policy, the Zhejiang website (www.ezhejiang.gov.cn) is launching a series of stories about overseas Chinese who are originally from Zhejiang, as well as those who are active in the province's development. Stories courtesy of Zhejiang Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and Zheshang Magazine
Chen Jian, a businessman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province [Photo/Zheshang Magazine]
Chen Jian, a businessman from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, who founded a Chinese small commodity center in Portugal 25 years ago, has continued with his import and export business by building an international commodity import town in Pinghu, Zhejiang, in recent years.
At the age of 29, Chen quitted his job and decided to start up businesses in other countries. He first went to Australia and then to Hungary and the Netherlands. Portugal, his last stop, was where he settled and began a new life.
In 1992, as a newcomer to the European country, Chen found that Indians dominated the local commodity market and few Chinese were engaged in the field. He thought it would be a big opportunity and began to work out what kinds of goods would please local residents.
Setting up stalls at the bazaar and selling clothes, small electric appliances, watches, alarm clocks and lighters from China were the happiest times in Chen's life.
Thanks to his hometown Zhejiang, a famous manufacturing base for light industrial products, Chen's businesses kept expanding from 1993 to 2000 and he eventually founded the first Chinese trading company in northern Portugal.
Inspired by Chen's experiences, more and more overseas Chinese became involved in business in Portugal. Chen then turned to the wholesale market and devoted himself to building wholesale business of Chinese small commodities in the country.
In recent years, Chen's business world has expanded even further and he chose Pinghu, a county-level city in Jiaxing, to start a new undertaking.
Pinghu International Import Commodity City is designed to feature trade, tourism and culture, and has been recognized as a provincial-level characteristic town and a national 4A tourist area.
Currently, there are more than 3,000 kinds of goods in the commodity city that are purchased directly from foreign countries. Chen spends nearly two-thirds of his time negotiating with global merchants with the aim of bringing cheap and quality products to Chinese people. He explained that 60 percent of the imported goods are priced below 20 yuan ($2.90).
The commodity city in Pinghu has been listed as one of the key projects under the framework of the "Return of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs" campaign.