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Russian influencer creates new life in Shenyang

China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-22 07:55

Any stranger talking to Misiutkin Vladislav on the phone for the first time would consider him a native of Shenyang, the capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province.

Far better known as Dawei in China, Vladislav, 26, from Irkutsk in south Russia, speaks fluent Chinese with a thick northeastern Chinese accent.

"I am having a great time in Shenyang, and my dream is to settle here," says Vladislav, an owner of three restaurants in the city.

In 2014, Vladislav, then a university student, decided to embark on a journey to the city about three hours away by air from his hometown.

He says it was his father who had advised him to study in China. "He believed I would have a better career here because of China's rapid development.

"Looking back, it was a wise decision," he adds.

After graduation from university, Vladislav became well-known locally thanks to his mastery of Chinese.

A comedy video he filmed on the Shenyang subway went viral on the Chinese short-video platform Douyin in 2019. It shows him bantering about cultural differences between China and Russia with his Shenyang accent.

The success of this video spurred the young Russian to become an online influencer in China. His later videos, featuring the northeastern accent and culture shock themes, have earned him a nickname among his 2 million followers as "that foreigner who forgets his mother tongue".

In recent years, Shenyang has rolled out a series of preferential policies for foreign investors, including streamlining the approval process, and tailoring visas, for startup entrepreneurs. In October 2020, Vladislav set up his catering company in Shenyang's pilot free trade zone.

His three restaurants sell food from both China and his homeland, such as coconut coffee, which is trendy in China, and traditional Russian shashlik.

Benefiting from his popularity on the internet, his business is thriving.

Looking back on his life so far in China, Vladislav says that his understanding of China had been reshaped by his real-life experiences.

"Before I came here, all my impressions about China were from movies," Vladislav says. He was astonished by the skyscrapers and busy streets when he first set in the country.

"Even things beyond my imagination are happening in China now," he says, praising China's achievements in technology and infrastructure, such as 5G networks, mobile payment, express delivery and high-speed rail.

Looking ahead, Vladislav says that he hopes to bring his younger brother to China after his high school education. "I believe he will have better chances in China, too," he says.


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