The Chinese Are Coming to Town

Ronja Yu, Sweden, 2010, color, video, 58'

"Feel China, Enjoy Life!" we read on the large advertising signs, adding a slightly surreal touch to the cold, Swedish winter. Kalmar is a small town in the south of Sweden, facing problems of unemployment and a dwindling population, and it could really use an economic boost. In 2006, the local authorities signed an agreement with ambitious Chinese businessman Luo Jingxing, who plans to set up a commercial center in Kalmar. From here, Chinese businesses can conquer the Swedish, and maybe even the European, market. In The Chinese Are Coming to Town, Ronja Yu closely follows the ensuing events. While the inhabitants of Kalmar prepare to receive their new neighbors and while the Chinese construction workers are told by their boss that you don't spit on the ground in Sweden, the real problems are of a very different nature. For example, there's the strict Swedish Health and Safety Inspectorate, which clashes with the Chinese desire to get things done fast. Swedish government representative Johan Persson remains optimistic in spite of it all, but businesswoman Li, who is planning to relocate with her family to Sweden, has her doubts. Will there be enough customers? The harsh reality of this example of globalization unfolds to soft background muzak.

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