Jing Xinghua, a 33-year-old Xinjiang native, first saw a recreational vehicle in 2009 during a trip to Chengdu in southwest China.
As reported by CNN, he was immediately engrossed by a vehicle that not only had a steering wheel, but also a bed, a galley and most of the amenities of a mini-home.
“I asked the driver to give me a tour of the RV,” Jing recalls. “This was the lifestyle I wanted, the sense of freedom.”
Jing was hooked. But he didn’t end up purchasing one RV.
Instead, he bought 10. With purchase prices starting at $47,105 for a domestic brand, it was a substantial outlay. Today, Jing is the head of Shanghai’s Zhong Tian Xing RV Club. He wants to turn his dream into a career.
The organization is affiliated with Zhong Tian Xing in Beijing, one of the largest RV manufacturers and leasing companies in China. Its core business is leasing RVs and organizing RV road trips.
“There was no such organization in Shanghai, so I think there is an opportunity,” explains Jing, who started the club three months ago. The 10 RVs he bought form the basis of his fledgling company’s fleet.
Jing says the RV business first came to China around 2001, but development has been slow due to high costs, legal issues and insufficient infrastructure.
Zhong Tian Xing broke even for the first time in 2011, 10 years after it was established.
Many Chinese were introduced to RVs by “Be There or Be Square,” a hugely popular Chinese film that scored big at the box office in 1999.
The film’s hero, Liu Yuan played by Ge You, is a Beijinger who lives in an RV in Los Angeles and makes money from whatever menial jobs he can land.
“Living in an RV is a lifestyle, it’s hard to explain it to you,” Liu tells the film’s heroine, who is shocked, along with many in the audience, to discover that Liu lives in a car.
Some 13 years later, experienced and affluent Chinese road trippers long for their own RVs (literally “house cars” in Mandarin) in search of that “sense of freedom” when traveling.
Today, approximately 4,500 RVs are zipping along Chinese highways.
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