Jiang Xiaobin, a Wenzhou native who has been running businesses in Istanbul, Turkey for over 20 years [Photo/Zheshang Magazine]
It's been 21 years since Jiang Xiaobin left Wenzhou to seek business opportunities in Istanbul, capital of Turkey in 1997.
Jiang's family engaged in the glasses business in the 1990s and inspired by the increasing orders from Turkish purchasers, Jiang made the decision to further explore the Turkish market on his own.
He soon found that with few local glasses manufacturers, the country relied on imported sunglasses for sunny days.
Despite the language and cultural barriers, the young man, in his twenties, became Istanbul's "king of glasses" after four years' business operation. In addition to glasses, he also sold other small commodities from China such as bags and suitcases to local people.
In 2002, to shield his businesses from high tariff barriers, Jiang established an optics company in Turkey and hired around 160 local residents to produce glasses-related products. It earned him good reputation in the foreign country for its contribution to local employment and tax revenue.
Now, Jiang is the chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Turkey, one of the most influential Chinese organizations in the country with 200-plus member companies.
"I spent the golden years of my life in Istanbul," the businessman said, adding that the life experience in Turkey enabled him to witness the changes of local people's knowledge and attitudes on China.
"Tremendous changes have taken place in China since its reform and opening-up," Jiang said every time he returned to China, he was shocked by the rapid development and his Turkish friends have also become more curious about China in recent years.
Four months ago, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba group acquired a stake of its Turkish counterpart Trendyol. Trendyol is the largest e-commerce platform in Turkey with over 2,000 sellers and 16 million users. "The deal is so far the largest in Turkey's internet sector and made a huge splash in the whole country," Jiang said.
"The reform and opening-up policy is making China more powerful and I'm quite proud of this."