Business of making change is hard work

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 1994, 12:00am

THERE is always bitter-sweet for anything. Doing business in Guiyang is no exception.

Hong Kong investor Chong Shek-lin chose Guiyang to establish his property business because there had not been a rush of property developers in the city.

'Most of Hong Kong's big names in the property sector have swarmed the coastal cities. The property sector there is close to saturation, and living standards are surprisingly high,' said Mr Chong.

This had made the cities unattractive for investment, given the expected oversupply of property developments in the coming years.

'Guiyang, however, is an ideal investment venue for middle to smaller ranking companies like us. Once it steps up efforts to improve the infrastructure, it will stand us in good stead,' he said.

Inspired by Guiyang's scenery, Mr Chong built the first villa development in the city, targetting Hong Kong and Taiwan businessmen as well as the city's citizens.

His company, Guiyang Huaxi Villa Houses Development Co, has completed works for the 74 units in the southern district of Huaxi.

The villas are priced from 300,000 yuan (about HK$270,000) to 700,000 yuan or an average 2,100 yuan per square metre, and most have been sold.

However, Mr Chong said Guiyang still lagged behind coastal cities in opening up to foreign investors.

'When we first came here, the government promised us everything, from the building of roads to sewage disposal and the supply of water and electricity. But in reality, we had to do it all by ourselves,' he said.

Government officials appeared to have noticed the problem and foreign investors now commanded a better reception than before, according to Mr Chong.

'The government has realised the importance of foreign capital to the city. They used to say we went there for money. But now they say we are welcome to the city and we are welcome to make money, too,' he said.

Guiyang's changing reception, however, has yet to embrace Hu Rong and her husband, Mr Chan, a Hong Kong citizen.

Ms Hu, of Guiyang origin, says her husband, a handbag designer, and another Hong Kong investor had forked out 450,000 yuan two years ago to establish a joint-venture company with a Guiyang firm in Yunyan district to trade foodstuff.

'We were the first Sino-foreign foodstuff company to set up in Guiyang,' Ms Hu said. But the mainland partner never made good its share of the investment, according to Ms Hu.

In the two years since setting up, there had been quarrels, changes to investment terms, and even resort to the courts, Mrs Hu said.

The latest development, was that the mainland partner was making an appeal.

Guiyang was not the only mainland city experiencing this kind of problem while China was encouraging foreign capital.

The situation has been repeated many times, particularly in development throughout the southern provinces as international business and Chinese attitudes have clashed.