The chinese factor

  • 2008-04-03
  • By Yury Sogis
VILNIUS - Despite the recent row over Tibet, Lithuania is becoming a popular place for Chinese people to settle.
According to the Department of Immigration, in 2005 's 2007 there were 800 temporary residency applications from citizens of China. For the period between Jan. 1 and March 15, 2008, the department has received 131 applications from the Chinese.

In Kaunas, "Mitnija" plant employs 77 Chinese workers. Because most of them speak no Lithuanian or English, the plant management issues corporate documents also in Chinese. According to the deputy plant manager at "Mitnija", the translator was sourced through local connections.
In Klaipeda, "Vakaru laivu gamyklà" shipyard accepted 50 workers from China in October 2007. Again, communicating is a challenge to the plant management, because only the guest workers group leader speaks English and Russian. But Lithuanians believe that for all practical matters the Chinese are quite effective at what they do, as long as you establish rapport with their leader. The shipyard personnel manager came to the conclusion that in the future the young generation of Chinese will speak English and therefore the language barrier will be abolished altogether. "If Lithuanians improve their English, that is,"  adds Vainorjus.

In the meanwhile, the Lithuanian Foreign Office reports a strong increase in trade volume between Lithuania and China. In 2007, imports from China increased to 1.7 billion litas (35 percent growth compared to 2006). Several language schools in Lithuania have Chinese language study programs. Among those are Soros International House, American English School, and The Vilnius University Sinology Centre.