I made my way to Chengdu in 2009. Attracted by its good living conditions and great potential of development, I settled down here, which has proved to be a good choice. I’ve lived here for 6 years and never thought about leaving.
There’s nothing new about foreigners settling down and living in Chengdu. People with different skin colors, languages and cultures, and various types of multinational companies and institutions are moving to the city, for its good development opportunities and prospects.
“After spending one year in Dalian in 2006-2007 and having explored most of China’s coastal cities, I made my way to Chengdu in 2009. Attracted by its good living conditions and great potential of development, I settled down here, which has proved to be a good choice. I’ve lived here for 6 years and never thought about leaving – setting up my own business makes it even more interesting,” said Dieter Vanonckelen, a Belgian, in a recent interview with the website GoChengdu.cn.
Dieter is currently owning The Beer Nest I & II (Bar/ Bar & Restaurant) and running MORE Magazine, and is co-founder/ co-organizer of Chengdu Entrepreneurship Meet up/ Startup Weekend Chengdu.
Speaking fluent Chinese, Dieter said his friends describe him as a real busy-go-round —— a person who’s always busy with different stuff.
“From childhood on, I have been enormously fascinated by other cultures, civilizations and foreign languages. When I — after having lived a year in South America —— obtained a master's degree in Sinology at Leuven University, I can speak, read and write Chinese fairly fluently and I had learned a lot about the Chinese society. My experience strengthened my desire to have a better understanding of the Chinese language and society,” Dieter said.
“I always like smaller cities like Chengdu (even though it’s a huge city for somebody coming from a tiny country) more than bigger ones. One reason is that they’re more charming, and another is that it’s easier for a young entrepreneur like me to start something there. Chengdu, a city with a population of about 14 million and the provincial capital of Sichuan, has changed a lot since I came here. Chinese government's Go-West policy, the Fortune Global Forum and a fast-growing economy have made the city a magnate for economic growth in western China. All big companies involving real estate, auto production and luxury industry, etc. know about 'The City of Brocade’.
“The business and investment environment in Chengdu is attractive to both domestic and foreign invested companies. Through favorable tax and investment incentives, it has seen massive investment in infrastructure, which has paved the way for the arrival of new industries and foreign firms,” he added. “The city has been progressing socially and economically and it’s nice to be part of it”.
“When I arrived in Chengdu in 2009, there were not so many multinationals, but now the number of Fortune Global 500 companies that have invested in the city went up from 177 at the end of 2011 to 255 in mid-2014.” The real proof why Chengdu is becoming an international city is that foreigners who settled down here long time ago have already had their kids. “It’s a cool sign. People feel the city's vitality and come here, and are willing to stay here for a long run. I can imagine that the number of mixed-race population speaking perfect Sichuan dialect will increase sharply in a couple of years.”
In recent years, Chengdu is striving to become an innovative city. In September 2013, Chengdu announced a plan to further boost its shift from “Made in Chengdu” to “Created in Chengdu”. Creative and innovative ideas and products are changing our lives and pushing the city forward. Dieter has made contributions to the city in this regard through the Chengdu Entrepreneurship Meet up (held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at The Beer Nest) and Startup Weekend Chengdu, a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The first event of the program was launched in June 2014, with around a hundred attendees, a high energy mood and 40 enthusiastic pitches from the participants. It proved a success and will be held once a quarter.
Dieter enjoys his life very much in Chengdu. “I like to kill my free time with friends and my girlfriend. I enjoy the local food, listening to music, surfing the web and reading,” he said.
Dieter’s life motto: “Different is Better” and “Dream, Hope, Live, Inspire”. He explains: “I’m very eager to learn and obtain experience, discover cultures and habits in an active manner, develop business, connect minds and innovate. I've seen more, learned more and got more in Chengdu. The experience in the city has greatly enriched my life.”