The China trade and tourism association in Canary Islands Hua Shang Hui organizes on Saturday at the Palace Hotel in Arona, starting at 6:00 p.m., a meeting with the society of Tenerife. The reason is to commemorate the 50 years of opening relations political, cultural and economic relations with Spain of the Asian giant. more specifically, the People’s Republic born in 1949 after the civil war that brought the communists to power with Mao as leader.
Zhibin Chen, a restaurant businessman with three decades of residence, is one of the main promoters of the event. Chen estimates that there are “between 7,000 and 8,000” compatriots residing here. Especially in the South and the Metropolitan area (Santa Cruz-La Laguna), mostly entrepreneurs dedicated to the same gastronomic sector or to commerce of all kinds (supermarkets, stores and even large clothing, footwear or accessories stores). Chen considers himself “just another chicharrero” and remembers that “there is already a third generation on the Island, who has adapted to the customs; they are kids who master the language and even teach it to their elders.”
Chen explains that “in addition to half a century of institutional relations, we globally celebrate the arrival of October.” A “fundamental month for us”, he values, since it hosts the Autumn Festivals, traditional in China, or National Day, October 1. The association expects around 400 people to attend the Arona event. From the Asian community, including arrivals from different parts of Spain, but also from the Canary Islands.
As corresponds to the objective of maintaining the roots of the origins but always with the desire to be open to the society that welcomed them, where they reside and work. There will be music from both worlds, including flamenco, as well as the ceremonial and color of the ancestral culture treasured by the Asian power where everything is great. From its extension, 9,600,000 square kilometers, to a population that amounts to 1,412 million (2021)
“We learn very quickly”
Chen points out that “We Chinese arrived in Tenerife decades ago in search of work and we settled when we found it”. In his case, he left from the town where he was born, Quing ten, to the south of this country as immense as it is attractive. The association’s director highlights that “the majority of us are entrepreneurs with businesses of greater or lesser size.” Asked about his ability to imitate almost anything from his community, he responded with a certain Chinese-Chicharrera sarcasm or vice versa: “we learn very quickly.” Zhibin clarifies that immigration from China to the Island “has slowed down in recent years.” He points out in this regard that “they practically do not come anymore” and emphasizes that “the economic situation is now good there and that is why they stay.”
The protagonist of this story returns to China almost every year, but he always does it with another perspective, that of “just another tourist,” he adds. He encourages Tenerife residents to make the trip because his country “is full of attractions,” he says. Among them, he gives as an example that “any European citizen will find there his most characteristic products.” In the case of Spain “there is never a shortage of ham or oil.”
Three decades ago, Zhibin Chen changed his hometown, just a tiny point in the geography of a huge nation, for a small (comparatively) island, Tenerife, in which he feels fully integrated. On Saturday he will demonstrate it, along with his countrymen, offering the best of the Chinese community to the society that they once adopted as their own.