Living the Chinese dream (2017)

Produced and Edited for Thomson Reuters Foundation

Made possible by a One World Media Production Fund


For years the Chinese city of Yiwu has welcomed business-savvy Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans and Iraqis. Although China does not have laws recognising refugees, it has granted visas to migrants who want to set up businesses or pursue higher education in the country. 

This film by the Thomson Reuters Foundation tells the stories of three people. Ammar Albaadani first came to China from Yemen 19 years ago as a student on a state scholarship. When fighting in his country escalated three years ago, he decided to settle in Yiwu. Manar Abdulhussein, 38, left behind bombings and attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad five years ago and moved her family business to Yiwu with her husband and sons. Mike, a 24-year-old actor from Syria, who goes by his professional name, is a newcomer to the city. Mike, whose student visa expires soon, plans to apply for a business visa, and hopes to achieve permanent residency one day.

Yet that is difficult to achieve under China's immigration rules which are among the strictest in the world for foreigners seeking permanent residency. As a result, many of the city's migrants are worried about how long they will be able to stay in what has become their second home.


Filmmaker: Shanshan Chen