40 Elites in 40 Years: IT industry makes Beijing its home
"Beijing is my second hometown. I've been to Germany and Japan, but I missed Beijing a lot. I'm used to the cashless lifestyle here, while in other countries they do not have such a comprehensive ecosystem of mobile apps."
What Kamran Rasool is referring to is an "almost" cashless society supported by mobile payment apps such as Alipay and WeChat. You don't need to withdraw cash from an ATM or queue overnight just to buy a flight or train ticket in China. Those apps on your smartphone will make things much easier.
Rasool was transferred to China as an employee of a Chinese telecom company in Pakistan in 2005. Since then, he has been working in this country, and now he works for a German IT consultancy company.
"China has a long history. Each province has its own diverse culture. I could learn more about the different local cultures in this country, especially in Beijing, where I feel very lucky to be able to wander around the famous historical sites. People from many different ethnic groups live here, and there're many halal restaurants for a Muslim like me. It's really convenient!"
Other than the ancient monuments and tasty cuisines, it is also the promising future of the IT industry that has kept Rasool in China for the past 13 years.
"I think China is the bullseye of the global internet industry, as it proves a great platform. China has drawn much attention around the world in fields like AI and big data."
A number of Chinese internet enterprises have emerged and joined the Fortune 500 list, being closely watched by global media in recent years. It is also worth mentioning that Douyin (TikTok) has become the world's most downloaded iOS app in the first quarter of 2018. The Internet industry is rapidly expanding in China. Meanwhile, Zhongguancun in Beijing has earned the name "China's Silicon Valley".
"Zhongguancun has attracted entrepreneurs from across the globe, many of whom are foreign students. They stay after graduating for the favorable policies like the 'Entrepreneur Visa'. It is the same as in Silicon Valley, where you don't always see a group of Americans, but rather a mixture of races."
He's witnessed the magnificent change of China in the past 13 years, being someone who used to believe truly that Chinese people were all kung fu masters.
"Everyone works on their laptops in China, but most people didn't even know what it looked like years ago. There used to be only two subway lines in Beijing, and now there are nearly two dozen. With skyscrapers rising one after another, urban facilities also have been improving. An ecosystem of mobile apps has also been established through the popularization of bicycle-sharing and mobile payments. Anything can be done on your fingers. The technological trend takes every field with it, even train stations have applied for the facial recognition system. It is an unimaginable transformation."
Rasool likes to volunteer at tech events or go climbing at the weekend. He knows all the best places to hang out at like a native Beijinger. Nonetheless, his favorite places are still the must-see attractions: Tian'anmen Square and Chang'an Avenue.
Rasool doesn't plan to leave China or Beijing in the near future. "I'd love to assist Chinese start-ups with my experience and expertise in this field." He also said that "as a Pakistani, however, I hope to localize my experience in China, and contribute to the construction of my homeland."