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Hainan-born executive returns from Japan to boost exchanges

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-01-17

George Meicho Fu has been commuting between Hainan and Japan a lot in recent years.

Fu, 72, is a Chinese-Japanese businessman. He was born in Wenchang, a city in South China's Hainan province.

He moved to Hong Kong with his parents when he was eight. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in the United States, Fu worked for a shipping company in Hong Kong. In 1977, he was sent abroad to work in its Japan branch.

He has lived and worked in Japan for over 40 years, and speaks English, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and the local Wenchang dialect, reflecting his winding life path.

Even though Fu left Wenchang several decades ago, he has made efforts to give back to his community by helping rebuild a primary school in his hometown and establishing scholarships for underprivileged students.

"I found that the study conditions in the countryside in my hometown were harsh. Though I left several decades ago, I decided to rebuild the Changsa Overseas Chinese Primary School," Fu says.

To raise funds, Fu contacted around 600 people from home and abroad for help, and spent a total of 4 million yuan ($594,000) to rebuild the school.

"Children are like pieces of blank paper. Education can shape them," Fu says.

In 2005, the new school was built, covering an area of 50 mu (3.33 hectares), complete with teaching and dormitory buildings and a huge gym.

After that, Fu went back to Japan for work. As the chairman of the Hainan Chamber of Commerce in Japan, he assisted the Hainan provincial government with a meeting in Tokyo in 2018 to attract new investment to the island province.

At that time, Fu realized how much promise Hainan now held. In 2019, he returned to start his own business, a Japanese restaurant in Haikou, the provincial capital.

"I am determined to bring culinary and service culture back to Hainan. Japanese service is all about the details, so I pay attention to training my staff in service and details, like how to smile and greet clients," Fu says.

Hainan is one of the major origin points of the overseas Chinese diaspora, who often return for yearly festivals. Fu's restaurant is a popular place for them to get meet, talk, eat and drink tea.

Inside the restaurant, a sign reads: "Home of Overseas Chinese." Fu organizes monthly meetings for local entrepreneurs who wish to introduce Japanese companies to opportunities available at the Hainan Free Trade Port.

"I want to facilitate exchanges between Japan and China in the future," Fu says.