Aileen Lim is one of the 13,000-strong resident foreign traders in Yiwu. (Photo/China.org.cn)
Yiwu built a venue for foreign expats in 2008, as part of the city's attempts to foster imports in order to mitigate risks from a shrinking export-led economy. Lim was the ideal recruit, already a seasoned importer at the time. She took up the offer in 2011 and has since then come to call Yiwu her second hometown.
"I think one of the best things about Yiwu is that it is very inclusive, that it embraces us strangers, making us feel at home," she says. "Yiwu is the exact embodiment of opening up. We have traders coming from 200 or more countries, so we are like a small United Nations without its politics."
This does not mean she is uninterested in the major goings-on in the world. She has kept a watch on China's ongoing Belt and Road Initiative, witnessing more and more traders arriving in Yiwu from Africa and ASEAN countries along the routes.
"It is not only about trading goods, but also exchanging ideas and cultures," she said, looking to the flags of various countries dotting the aisles outside her shop.