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Business booming in border county

Updated: 2023-02-25 10:05 ( China Daily )
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KUNMING — As night falls, the bridge connecting China's Hekou Yao autonomous county and Vietnam's Lao Cai is illuminated with glowing lights while the sound of live music echoes through the busy streets lining the riverbank, with the warm subtropical breeze adding to the vibrant charm of the atmosphere.

Exotic Street in Hekou, located in Southwest China's Yunnan province, is teeming with visitors. The county stands just across the river, less than 100 meters from Lao Cai.

Since the Hekou Port reopened in early January, the county has regained its vibrancy as cross-border trade and exchanges have boomed. Once again, Exotic Street is abuzz with commerce and culture.

"It's an absolute pleasure to return here after three years," says Dan Huong, a part-time Vietnamese singer at a local restaurant named Honghe Valley 1897.

Dan began working at the restaurant when it first opened in 2011, but the operation was abruptly interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After business resumed, Dan, who speaks fluent Chinese, started performing again and was warmly welcomed by Chinese guests.

Now she works in Lao Cai during the daytime and at the restaurant in the evening.

"I usually come here at around 6 pm. It takes about 30 minutes by foot, and I return before 11 pm," she says.

Chen Yonghui is the owner of the restaurant that features Vietnamese elements.

The restaurant reopened for business after Spring Festival this year, and now its daily gross income is around 15,000 yuan ($2,180).

The business is booming thanks to the full resumption of customs clearance.

Local statistics showed that the number of people passing through the port exceeded 100,000 from Jan 8 to Feb 8, with the daily average recently hitting nearly 6,000.

Many Vietnamese workers have decided to return to Hekou to work once again. At Chen's restaurant, half of its 30 employees are Vietnamese.

"We have helped Vietnamese employees apply for temporary residence permits, provided them with free accommodation and food, and also purchased insurance," Chen says.

After Spring Festival, a daily average of about 400 Vietnamese people apply for permits for visiting relatives and friends, and work permits in the administration center in Hekou.

Jin Yan, a local resident, helps Vietnamese people apply for their work permits at the administration center.

"My friend opened a bar on Exotic Street, and the business has been constantly improving. He has recruited three additional Vietnamese workers," Jin says, adding that people are confident about the future development of Hekou after the resumption of customs clearance.




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