(This article was updated on Sept. 1, 2021)
Shekou International Community
Sea World in Shekou. Liu Xudong
In 1979, Shekou became a trailblazer of China’s reform and opening-up. After 35 years of hard work, China Merchants Group has built the area into an international community. Surrounded by mountains and sea, the community boasts the biggest per capita greeneries in Shenzhen, complete with comprehensive facilities such as hospitals, gyms, schools, training centers as well as large leisure and entertainment venues. Shekou is the epitome of Shenzhen’s globalization.
Walking around Shekou, whether through the streets, parks, department stores, supermarkets or restaurants, you will come upon people of many different colors and origins who work and live there, calling the community their home.
Jingshan Villas, Fraser Place, Mont Orchid Riverlet, Coastal Rose Garden, and The Peninsula are all housing estates where expats account for a large proportion of the tenants. The beautiful environment, safe and comfortable facilities and a tolerance for people from all backgrounds have made Shekou a place its citizens feel proud of.
Many expats who live in Shekou are impressed by its beautiful environment. An oil company manager once said that Shekou has two main attractions - a beautiful environment and amenities - that make it feel like a comfortable European town. Close to Hong Kong and following international practices in many respects, residing in Shekou makes it easy to communicate with locals and travel to and from abroad.
The first expats to live in Shekou were employees of oil companies drilling in the South China Sea. By May 1982, 40 oil companies from 11 countries had submitted bids to operate oilfields in the South China Sea and built their logistics base in Chiwan, Shekou. Since then, a large number of oil company employees have settled in Shekou. While oil production is done at sea, commerce is dealt with on Shekou’s dry land.
Located in the Xiangmihu subdistrict of Futian, Donghai is one of the eight local communities Shenzhen that is targeting to provide special support for developing international communities. The other communities include Shuiwei, also in Futian, and Yanshan in Nanshan District.
Amongst the Donghai community’s efforts to accommodate non-native residents is a liaison office for international residents (inaugurated Sept. 18, 2013), intended to help connect police, property management, volunteers and leasing agencies with foreign residents there. The office opens every Friday morning.
In addition to efforts to provide targeted services for expats that help them adjust to Chinese society, a variety of international cultural exchange activities have been held in the community.
Among the highlights was the first Cultural Exchange Week between China and South Korea.
Located in central Futian and surrounded by tall buildings, Shuiwei is home to rows of neatly-dotted low-rise apartment buildings. There are schools, parks, wet markets and an assortment of restaurants in the village. While some native residents remain there, Shuiwei's population has seen an upsurge in its immigrant population.
Its vast variety of restaurants is a major appeal to local residents, expats and tourists from outside Shenzhen.
One distinctive cultural feature unique to Shuiwei is that it hosted the first International Urban Images Festival of Futian District in September 2014.
The festival featured a photo exhibition comparing old and new Shenzhen, documentary screenings and lectures by professional photographers.
Shuiwei Community is also home to an international school: the Shenzhen College of International Education. The Shenzhen College of International Education is a UK curriculum-based school, teaching only IGCSE, AS and A Level courses to predominantly Chinese students. The college is selective and its mission is to prepare students for entering competitive universities in UK, USA and elsewhere.
Yanshan Community is another area in Shenzhen with a notable number of expats making up its demographic composition. Some 2,700 expats from 47 countries and regions live here, comprising 10 percent of the total population. Nearly 200 residents are returned overseas Chinese living and residents of Hong Kong and Macao and their families. Japanese foreign residents account for the biggest number of expats in the community, followed by Americans, South Koreans, Canadians, Australians, Indians, Germans, French and Britons. With a lovely environment surrounded by sea and mountains, the community has international schools and such amenities as shops and recreational facilities. English is widely used.
To make life even more convenient for expats, Merchants Subdistrict has set up Shenzhen’s first Expat Service Center in the community, where community workers and police staff offer passport registration and other services including Chinese language teaching to residents. They also arrange for Chinese handicraft workshops, fun sports meets, legal lectures and psychological counseling.
East Coast Community
East Coast Community Expat Liaison Station in Meisha Subdistrict is equipped with a one-stop multifunctional service station. The station is includes three service windows for handling registration for temporary residence for expats, registration for foreign volunteers and consultations on other procedures.
Consultations on other procedures include guidance for leasing a business, language training and cultural exchange. The aim of these services is to provide a platform through which foreign residents are able to better integrate into the community.
Yantian District Government has paid special attention to the establishment of an international community in East Coast Community and has organized an array of events including the Family English Show, music festivals and an expats’ for discussing what kinds of difficulties expats living in East Coast Community have met in work, life and investment in a bid to better service them.
Currently, there are over 100 expats living in the community.