Pakistani businessman appointed by People’s Congress in Yiwu, China

BEIJING, April 22 (APP):A Pakistani businessman, along with a Turkish trader were appointed by the People’s Congress in Yiwu, East China’s Zhejiang Province to become a bridge between the local government and foreigners to resolve problems.
This is the first time that Yiwu, China’s largest international small commodity market has appointed foreigners to serve in the city-level people’s congress, according to a report of Global Times here on Monday.
Sajid Iqbal, a Pakistani businessman said although he was appointed a few days
ago, he has already been helping the local officials and foreigners to solve various problems in Yiwu and improve the development of the city in the past 19 years.
Iqbal had arrived Yiwu in 2000. Married to a Chinese woman and fluent in Chinese, his experience in China makes him an “old China hand.”
“Yiwu’s development is closely related to foreign traders, so policy-making on public affairs and social management of the city needs to hear the voices of foreigners who work and live here,” Iqbal said.
Before their appointment, Iqbal and his colleagues, who can speak Chinese and other foreign languages, had already become a bridge between foreign businessmen and Chinese people, as well as officials.
For instance, many foreign businessmen cannot speak English and very few Chinese officials can speak languages like Urdu, Hindi and Arabic, “so we are
playing a crucial role to mediate and connect the two sides,” he said.
In the past 19 years, Iqbal said he and his colleagues have helped the city government to improve and modernize governance and public services in Yiwu.
“We have solved a lot of problems together with the city government, including
visa policies, communication to other countries, education for foreign children
in Yiwu, and the food service industry for foreigners.”
Jiang Ming’an, a law professor at Peking University, told the Global Times that
there is no legal issue with these appointments. “According to the law, there is
no problem if foreigners in China participate in public affairs through discussions
at politics conciliation meetings or hearings held by a city or provincial-level
people’s congress.”
Yiwu is an international trading hub. This is a good way to show China’s
determination to better serve foreign traders and explore innovative policies
on opening-up, he said.