Many Chinese workers have moved to Malaga from other Spanish provinces to open a business. :: SUR
Going against the general decline of foreign residents living in the province, the amount of Chinese registered on the padrón continues to rise with them now being the seventh highest, having risen above French.
In one decade their numbers have quadrupled, having reached a total of 7,000 in January of this year. This is according to the provisional figures of the padrón published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Together with Russians, the Chinese population has been the only one to increase in the last year. The amount of British, Moroccans, Romanians, Italians, Germans and Ukrainians has decreased.
In total, the number of registered foreigners has reduced by 15 per cent in one year to 251,942. There is, however, 6,959 Chinese, 147 more than 2013. This figure is 391 per cent more than in 2004 when there were only 1,779.
Although the province has lost its appeal among Chinese to come from their country of origin, this has not been the case with those already living in other parts of Spain such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia. The good climate and low costs of opening a business have been ‘pull factors’. This has offset the Chinese already in Malaga who became unemployed due to the crisis and had to leave.
This is how several business owners who spoke to SUR read the situation. They also pointed towards different causes for this trend. “Other foreigners tend to work for others and can lose their jobs at any moment. Chinese, however, prefer to be independent and, after a couple of years working, start their own businesses,” said the President of the Association of Chinese Businesses Owners of Andalucía, Leticia Chen. “They save a lot, do not go out much and have financial support from friends and family who lend them interest free money.”
A quiet community
What is more, “they have a good relationship with Chinese suppliers and buy products with very flexible payment options and at a low cost. This way they have a higher profit margin,” said Chen. As a result they have been able to weather the storm despite the fall in consumption as they earn just enough to support themselves.
“Chinese live much more quietly than the other foreigners, we will wait little by little for the economy to improve,” said the President of the Andalusian Chinese Trade Association, Yebiao Liu, known as Andy.
The entrepreneur explained the problems that a Chinese worker has when returning to their country after living for a number of years in Spain. “It is difficult to find work because employers always ask for experience and a knowledge of Spanish is not valued,” he said.
He also refers to a matter of pride: “Friends and family believe that in Spain we earn a lot of money, so we don’t like to return without the means to at least start our own business there.”
Although unemployment also affects them, when a Chinese worker loses their job, their compatriots will help him find employment, “even the boss that fires him will help him find work months beforehand.”
Others decide to start a new chapter of their life in Malaga, coming from other provinces such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia. “Here they have a better quality of life, there is good weather and the cost of living is lower. They can enjoy themselves more while spending less,” said Leticia Chen who is the manager of an association that is made up of 330 Chinese business owners in Andalucía, 80 per cent of them in Malaga.
The arrival of Chinese workers from other parts of the country compensates for those whose companies have gone under. Chen estimates that in the last six months 30 per cent of Asian businesses have shut in the province, the majority in the Guadalhorce industrial estate.