Outtakes: Portraits of Overseas Chinese Returning to the Mainland
April 20, 2010
Henry Chen, 24, is a an English teacher in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. After graduating with a degree in business from an Australian university, Chen has returned to China hoping to find a position in the fast-growing economy. In the meantime, Chen has been teaching English.
Jonathan Tse, 34, is currently an architecture student at Dong Nan Da Shui (Southeast University) in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Tse left Hong Kong when he was about 7 years old, immigrating to the United States with his family, eventually graduating from Washington University at St. Louis. Now, seeing business opportunities and a chance “to find something I lost in the past” Tse has returned to China to pursue a degree in architecture. “My heart is more American,” Tse said, “and I want to be more Chinese.” He said, “I always knew I wanted to come back.”
Helen Li is general manager of Nanjing Rhino Solutions Corporation in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Li left China in 2001 to live abroad, and after positions at a variety of foreign companies in North America and Europe, returned to China in January 2008 to pursue business opportunities and provide a Chinese education and lifestyle for her daughter. “We have a 5-year itch,” Li said, referring to desire to return home felt by many Chinese expatriates. Although she now considers herself a “global citizen,” Li has found it easy to return to Chinese business culture. “They respect my experience abroad,” Li said of her business colleagues.
Dr. He Tao (male) and Dr. Li Xuemei (female) are two researchers at the Nanjing University of Technology in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. The couple are married, and lived and worked in the Netherlands for 9 years before returning to China 3 years ago. Dr. He Tao is a water filtration and membrane engineer, and Dr. Li Xuemei is a nanoparticle chemist.
Jason Hsu, 30, is Regional Purchasing Manager (Asia-Pacific and Africa) for Ford Motor Company in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. After living in the United States for 14 years, Hsu returned to his homeland in Taiwan and then eventually moved to China, where he has been working for nearly 6 years. “There are a lot of sea turtles in China,” Hsu said of Chinese expatriates returning to work on mainland China and the difficulty of finding a job in China as a returning expat. Hsu said he moved to China to pursue business opportunities. “It’s probably the fastest growing place in the world,” Hsu said of the possibilities for work in the country.
For Map Magazine, a Chinese publication, I was assigned to photograph a few portraits of overseas Chinese people who have returned to the mainland for a variety of reasons. Some returned to chase business opportunities, others for reasons relating to family and heritage.