Stories

Three Foreigners Doing Business In Guangzhou

Guangzhou Shi, China Business November 27 @ 7:20am

This work was finished in September 2017. Movie clips of Three Foreigners Doing Business in Guangzhou: https://youtu.be/c5Y0l18JeGc

According to "The History of the Port of Guangzhou," Panyu (Guangzhou's original name) began to grow as a port city in the Qin and Han dynasties (before Christ). As Guangzhou developed, it became China's first real port city. During the Han dynasty, China's foreign trade reached new heights, and ships from Guangzhou, Xuwen, and Hepu sailed toward South Asia, traversing the Indian ocean to form what was to become the Maritime Silk Road. This became a crucial element in establishing communication and exchange between the civilizations of the East and the West. From the Three Kingdoms period to the Sui dynasty, the international shipping industry began to develop; it was during the period that Guangzhou became the epicenter of all of China's foreign trade. In the Tang dynasty, Guangzhou entered a new golden age. It blossomed into China's largest port, and was one of the largest ports in the world at the time. Over this period, porcelain, silk, paper, copper, iron, gold, and silver all flowed out of Guangzhou as exports.

With more than 1000 years of trade history, business has become ingrained in Guangzhou's culture. As one of the subjects of these photographs, Vasily Kalinin, put it:"When you meet people in Guangzhou they don't ask you what you do, they ask you what kind of business you're involved in." Now, especially during the twice-yearly Canton Fair, business people from all around world make their way to Guangzhou to talk trade. Even normally during the year, there is a continuous stream of foreigners coming to Guangzhou for business. Goods from across the country are gathered together in Guangzhou, with every category of wholesale items piling up around the city as if it was one massive distribution center. A diverse array of faces, culture, and food all meet in Guangzhou, giving the city a unique flavor and a life of its own.

The three subject of my photographs are Vasily Kalinin, a Russian international student, Mauro Castellan , an Italian shoe entrepreneur, and Felly, an African businessman with an import-export company. They have lived in Guangzhou many years. One of them even lived in Guangzhou about 20 years. Through their eyes, I hope to understand Guangzhou as it is to them.
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