The Process of Setting up a Factory in the Mainland China after 1979

In April 1979, Lam set up a factory in Dongguan, making it a testing ground for investment in the Mainland. This all began when Lam was invited by a Dongguan businessman with whom he had businesses ties. Dongguan was not a developed area and on the factory site there was just a dilapidated old house with fewer than 10 sets of machines. Lam had to go to the factory everyday to train up his staff about the work procedure and the skills they needed to know. He hired local mainland workers but Hong Kong managers. The mainlanders despised capitalism, and Lam had to repeatedly explain to the local officials that his intent was to teach the locals to work diligently for a living, so that they in turn could also help Lam himself. During the talk, he met the mayor of Dongguan, who sent his son to Lam’s factory to undertake a internship. Today, the son is able to set up a plastic processing plant himself.
The pilot factory in Dongguan was successful. In 1982, Lam set up another factory in Hainan. The reason he did not go back to Hainan right away when he made the first investment was that he did not want to embarrass himself in front of his folks over there in the light of possible failure, as it was a traditional Chinese notion to return home in glory after making a fortune. Lam thought that it was a must to introduce new technologies in order for China to develop itself in the early days of the country’s Economic Reform. In 1982, Lam established the Don Xiu Toy Factory in Yan Bu, Dong Xiu, Nanhai. Local officials were in charge of recruitment and they eventually hired 52 workers. Lam picked three people to be managers. The head of the factory was originally a veterinarian, but was later promoted to become the Communist Party’s local leader in Dong Xiu with a wage of RMB36. The other two managers were formerly a leader of coolies and a farmer respectively. Lam also hired his former classmate, Chan, to manage the factory on his behalf, focusing on finance and external affairs. The head of factory had a successful career and retired in 2007. Lam thought the weaknesses of Mainlanders was that they were not smart enough and was in favour of nepotism. Hence he did not delegate all of his authority to them and instead preferred to manage remotely from Hong Kong.

Company Forward Winsome Industries Limited
Subject Industry
Duration 19m16s
Language Cantonese
Material Type
Source Hong Kong Memory Project Oral History Interview
Repository Hong Kong Memory Project
Note to Copyright Copyright owned by Hong Kong Memory Project
Accession No. LKF-FW-SEG-010
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