Living in Beijing can be daunting for expatriates new to the city, so help and assistance at some level is necessary. Foreigners need resources, aid and information, and it's convenient if such things and more can be found all at one event.
The 4th annual Expatriate Services Expo will kick off its three-day extravaganza on September 14 in Sanlitun Soho. The event is a service-oriented Expo offering information on a variety of things for foreigners interested in business, education, health care and tourism. It's an event that becomes more important each year as there are now about 180,000 foreigners living in Beijing.
Lily Liu is the project manager for this year's Expo. She told Metro Beijing, "The Expo is more than a business exhibition. Rather, it is an international cultural carnival for all expatriates and local high-end individuals in Beijing."
Colin Friedman is the founder and CEO of FCGroup, a networking organization that helps foreigners living in Beijing with things such as finding a job and getting settled in the nation's capital.
Friedman has been consulting with Chinese organizers for this year's event and will serve as the event's host on the central stage throughout the duration of its three-day run.
For this year's Expat Expo he told Metro Beijing, "Basically, if you have a question about your Beijing life you can come here and find the answer.
In addition to the booths, there will be an activities area, which will have a full program of events that include a mix of fun things for kids and talks on a variety of subjects."
In living up to its name, the Expo has always been targeted at foreigners living in China. From 10 am to 6 pm, the event will offer information about available services for foreigners here in the city.
Vendors will also be on site with products designed to make life easier here. A statement issued from the organizers of the Expat Expo said, "The event is sponsored by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. This year we will have 52 outdoor booths, as well as 35 indoor booths."
Friedman told Metro Beijing that last year's event was in Solana, and although many people attended, there were complaints that it wasn't close to a subway station.
"This year's venue, Sanlitun Soho, is easily accessible since it is only a few minutes walk from Tuanjiehu Subway Station. We have also changed contractors and this year the booths will be of a far higher quality," he explained.
Expo organizers said last year the three-day event hosted some 100 exhibitors, who displayed the latest in their cutting-edge products and services. It also included 40 different stage performances from those participating in the event.
In addition, they said, "Leaders from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce were also in attendance engaging in candid talks with participants."
At this year's Expo more embassies will be participating while promoting their countries. The Thai Embassy and the Malaysia Embassy will have multiple booths showcasing food, entertainment and tourism. And unlike last year, there will be more international schools and hospitals present to address foreigner concerns over education and medical relief.
However, employment opportunities will not be a part of the Expo as it is not a job fair.
For Friedman the most exciting thing about this year's Expo is how big it will be compared to the past three events.
"The first two years it was held at the Swissotel, but because of the need for additional space we had to move to a larger venue," he told Metro Beiing.
"This year we have more vendors, more booths and anticipate far more visitors," he added.