Surprises in Store for Li and Yu Song in Western Australia


lichenLi Chen


When Yu Song Liu and his wife Li Chen decided to migrate in 2005, they considered South Australia and Western Australia as possibilities, but despite having a son studying hospitality in Adelaide, Perth came out on top of their list.

Yu Song Liu, Li Chen and their children are now Permanent Residents of Western Australia having been sponsored by the Small Business Development Corporation’s Business Migration Centre.

“We chose Perth because it is quiet, clean and on the same time zone as China”, Li said.

Initially, Yu Song and Li intended to open a restaurant which suited their hotel and hospitality experience, but in 2006 Western Australia was in the grips of a skills shortage so they decided to look for business that was less labour-intensive.

After researching local Chinese newspapers and talking with friends, Li and Yu Song were cautious in their business choices. They bought a retail business specialising in oriental foods in Perth, while still maintaining their construction business in China.

Li has found that running a business in Australia is very different to the way things are done in China, and suggests that others wishing to do the same thing should be prepared to adapt to local business methods.

“It is important to fit into the Australian culture and understand your market as quickly as possible. Business owners here are involved with every aspect of the business from the shop floor upwards and while this is a surprise, it is really good in the long run,”

Li said. “It gives you the opportunity to know everything about the business, how it runs and what works best.”

Li has also experienced some other pleasant surprises since moving to Australia, particularly how quickly her children have come to love their new home.

“My children love Perth, the air is so clean and the education opportunities here are very good,” Li said.

“Best of all, we are working so well as a family. My younger children are becoming more independent and responsible – more than they would be if we were still in China.

“Here we do nearly everything for ourselves, and as a result we are valuing each other, and what we have, in a very different way.

“While I am busy with my business and with the family, we are all enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle here in Perth. Li’s advice to anyone from China looking at migrating to Western Australia is to have realistic expectations and be prepared to do things differently to the way they are done in China.

“We have had lots of surprises since we came to Perth, but all of them have turned out to be good,” Li said.

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