Zuo Lan’s family at Italy. The fasting progress in China’s economic development gives opportunities to Zuo Lan’s career life and also results in the settlement of his family in Beijing. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Zuo Lan said the best time of his life is when his children came to the world. The two children of his were born in Beijing, the older daughter was born at Peking Union Medical College Hospital. The doctor and nurses treated them very well. Up till now, they still maintain their friendship, and keep in touch.
Looking out from the window of Zuo Lan’s office room at the CBD International Mansion, a building is under construction, rising straight from the ground with the support of rebars and cement. As the manager of the Beijing Representative Office of BST (Hong Kong), for recent years, Zuo Lan has been providing these “steel bones” big or small with raw materials-- imported iron ores.
The first time he came to China was at the end of 1980s, alone on a travel for sightseeing, he understood not a single Chinese word then. The warm, straightforward and sociable Serbian overcame a load of difficulties by observation and body language. “Once I set off from Shanghai to Qingdao, when I arrived, it was pass 10:00 at night. I struggled in finding a hotel, but failed. An old man and his daughter came across me, they helped me to the end by gesticulation because of language difficulties. I was really moved,” said Zuo Lan.
In a flash, he has settled down in Beijing for wholly 20 years. In the 20 years, seasons changed fast, as numerous high risings emerged like bamboos sprout after the rain, and numerous chances were also bred on this soil. He said frankly that he was lucky for encountering the opportunity of the fast growing Chinese economy. In 2000 when the whole world cast their sight on “made in China”, Zuo Lan established an export company. At that time, he was on business travel about 200 days a year, visited many Chinese provinces including Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang. In 2008, he sniffed this developing China’s demand on steel, so threw himself into this industry for nine years.
“Iron and steel is crucial to an economic entity, things as big as buildings and machines or as small as chair arms need iron and steel. In 2005, China, America, Russia, India and Ukraine were major iron and steel producers of the globe, they were at a similar level in term of yield. But by 2015, the yield of China had sextupled while the rest countries remained at the level 10 years ago,” Zuo Lan felt excited, “it was this that supported China’s development and also reflected China development.” Meanwhile, Zuo Lan also discovered environmental problem behind a prosperous iron-and-steel production. “Now it is changing little by little, it has to be an ongoing process. And in the process, new opportunities will constantly emerge that are very much worthy of a wait.”
Zuo Lan’s career is developed in China where his family also settles down. Both born in Beijing were his oldest daughter 16 years ago and youngest son 12 years ago. “I speak the poorest Chinese among the four of my family,” Zuo Lan smiled, “My youngest son speaks best.” In 2016 when World Cup Qualifiers was held in Shaanxi’s Xi’an, Zuo Lan’s youngest son served as an interpreter of national soccer team coach Bora Milutinovic.
Today, Zuo Lan slows down his pace of life. Besides preparing for La Joie de vivre solo exhibition of Mirjana Mit Stojkovic, his mother in law, the photographic buff prefers to linger along high streets and back lanes of Beijing. Breakfast carts, stone door lions, pedestrians with sunshade... the Serbian is seriously examining and photographing this city where he has lived in for 20 years from a foreigner’s perspective.
Zuo Lan at 2016 China Open. The rapid progress of China’s economy gives Zuo Lan opportunities in developing his career, and makes him decide to settle down his family in Beijing. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Zuo Lan meets Bora Milutinovic in Xi’an. The rapid progress of China’s economy gives Zuo Lan opportunities in developing his career, and makes him decide to settle down his family in Beijing. [Photo provided to Qianlong]
Zuo Lan and Bora Milutinovic. The rapid progress of China’s economy gives Zuo Lan opportunities in developing his career, and makes him decide to settle down his family in Beijing. [Photo provided to Qianlong]