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UPDATED: November 4, 2011 Web Exclusive
'Escapees' Return to First-Tier Cities
Young people weigh the pros and cons of living in different Chinese cities

BICYCLING PROMOTION: A worker demonstrates how to rent a public bicycle with an electronic card in Chaoyang District on October 26, Beijing, where a bicycle rental service system was introduced to alleviate traffic jams (XINHUA)

"It was not a bad choice to start a business in my hometown," Zhang said. Introduced by a friend, he set up a team to underwrite real estate projects. Failing to make valuable connections with real estate tycoons, his marginal sales team dealt only in small real estate items scattered across Hunan.

"Informative documents and fresh sales ideas which might be valuable in Guangzhou are not as important," said Zhang. "The only requirement to successfully sign a contract is to drink well at dinners with prospective business partners," said Zhang.

What is more difficult is collecting money after completing sales based on signed contracts. "People in Guangzhou have strong business awareness. It is typical for the other partner to pay on time upon a business deal being settled," Zhang said. However, receiving payment in his hometown has become extremely difficult. The other side would do everything possible to deduct fees, and an overdue debt is quite commonplace there. Zhang has not received payment for several items he has sold. Frustrated, the team members began to leave, and his team had to disband.

Crestfallen, Zhang decided to find a job, or even to create his own business in Guangzhou or other areas with a mature market economy. "It is painstaking to do business at hometown," Zhang said.

Zhao Wen returned to Taian City in east China's Shandong Province, engaging in production and sales of sporting goods. He experienced difficulty of doing business in small and medium-sized cities.

To set up a new project requires completion of some procedures. Zhao and his uncle failed to finish the approval procedures for two weeks. At last, his uncle asked a friend using guanxi to entertain a related government official with dinner and gifts. His new project was approved in half a day.

"I do know that doing businesses in small cities need guanxi, but it's the first time I myself experienced such a practice," said Zhao. "Contrary to people in large cities, who would handle practical affairs if they had time and energy, people in small cities waste great energy dealing with guanxi," said Zhao.

Experts noted that large cities are usually more open and fair compared with the second and third-tier cities, where rankings and familiar relationships are given more on priority. Consequently, it is hard for some people to have self-development and to incubate new businesses in small cities.

Hard choice

Young people need to scrupulously select a place to develop themselves. Cities, large or small, have their own advantages and disadvantages. Only by finding a place suitable to them can young people have a happy life.

Xia Ling, after graduated from a university in Nanchang, capital city of China's Jiangxi Province, found a job as an accountant in Shanghai in 2006. Due to the high housing prices and traffic jams, she returned her hometown in Jiangxi one year after.

Despite a comfortable life, she met across many annoyed troubles in her hometown. In eyes of her town folks, she was assumed to be incapable of working in a large city like Shanghai, and she even found it difficult to find a fiancé in her hometown.

She later went to Guangzhou to find a job, and also made a boy friend who later became her husband. Even though living burdens still exist. High housing prices, high cost of living necessities and working pressures complicate life in first-tier cities.

In fact, escaping from or returning to large cities mirrored some problems existing in large and small cities in China.

To sooth the annoying problems for young people, large cities should make efforts to complete social services systems, said experts. The Central Government should manage to build a fair and just competitive environment for young people to find jobs or create businesses in second and third-tier cities. After all, according to experts, large cities' accommodating capacities are limited.

(Source: People's Daily)

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