From Ecuador to China
By Magdalena Rojas  ·  2023-01-13  ·   Source: NO.3 JANUARY 19, 2023
Hidalgo (third left) at the Food and Hospitality China fair in 2010, a major international fair for related businesses (COURTESY PHOTO)

For Jorge Hidalgo, China has become his second home and a place where he has made his way through the worlds of diplomacy, business and academia to strengthen the country's ties with his native Ecuador.


It has been two decades since Hidalgo first set foot on Chinese soil. "I think it was destiny," he said. It all started thanks to a scholarship from the Andean University, where he had obtained his master's degree in international relations with a specialization in economics and finance, to go study Chinese economics at Beijing's prestigious Renmin University of China. Since then, his path has been marked by a myriad of experiences in the academic, diplomatic and business realms.

After his studies, Hidalgo temporarily returned to Ecuador, but China had already imprinted itself on his life. "I think that from that time onward, my mind and heart belonged to this great country, where I could sense the enormous potential and strength both in its people and economy," he said. This prompted him to return to China and continue his academic formation through a doctoral degree in management at Shanghai University. Upon completing his studies in 2008, Hidalgo returned to Ecuador once again, for a short holiday this time, no longer as a single man, but accompanied by his Chinese wife.

His extensive knowledge and professional experience were vital as Hidalgo opened Ecuador's first consulate and commercial office in Shanghai in 2009 when he officially embarked on his diplomatic endeavors. "This undoubtedly marked not only my work but also my service to Ecuador," he recalled. His busy schedule included numerous trips, meetings and the signing of a series of agreements to strengthen the relationship between China and Ecuador. Hidalgo highlighted many moments and achievements from his five years on the job. One of them was the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. "As the general commissioner of Ecuador at the expo, I was able to celebrate Ecuador's National Day along with eight ministers of state, during which time we introduced Ecuador and all of its goods and services available for export to the Chinese public," he said.

Hidalgo has witnessed firsthand the growth of the trade balance over the years. While he served as consul from 2009 to 2014, there was the signing of an agreement on a big Chinese investment in optical fiber in the presence of the then president of Ecuador. In addition to this and other investments by China, Hidalgo highlighted cultural and academic exchanges, as well as partnerships between cities, as another key aspect of the relationship between China and Ecuador. "We promoted the partnering of Ecuadorian cities with Shanghai and other Chinese jurisdictions under my lead, such as the province of Jiangsu with Pichincha in Ecuador, the city of Loja with Hangzhou, and the port of Ningbo with the port of Manta," he said.

Jorge Hidalgo with his wife Zhou Jie (COURTESY PHOTO)

Knowledge and experience 

Hidalgo has dedicated an important part of his life to academia and teaching, so when Shanghai University offered him a position as an associate professor in its master of business administration (MBA) program in August 2014, the proposal seemed like the most natural next step for him to take. He noted that upon first arriving in China, he began sporadically teaching international business to international graduate students. Similarly, he had also served as a graduate professor at the Catholic University of Ecuador during his time back in Quito. "I immediately accepted the proposal from Shanghai University, as it was a priority for myself and my family to remain in a big city like Shanghai, where I could combine my academic activities with my endeavors in commerce between Ecuador and China."

Currently, he teaches two full-time courses—global strategic management and global study tour, both at the Shanghai campus and at the university's campus in the city of Suzhou. In addition, in 2017, Shanghai University and the Polytechnic School of Chimborazo created a joint MBA program, in which Hidalgo became responsible for leading the Ecuador-based division until 2020. "It was hard work to get the curriculum ready by the law of both countries, as well as to hire professors that met the requirements of both universities," he said.

As if all this was not enough, in December 2021 he joined Shenzhen Duochain Supply Chain Management Co. Ltd., as vice president of international business. According to Hidalgo, the company has ties in the food and beverage sector with several Latin American countries, especially Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. He pointed out that Ecuador's current export of shrimp to China averages $300 million every month.

"My contribution adds value to the company by serving as a bridge for both parties," he said. Undoubtedly, with all the positions that Hidalgo has held throughout the years, facilitating ties and exchanges, whether between individuals or at a government level, has always been a common denominator. When asked about his opinion on this, Hidalgo simply replied, "It is very important for people to get to know each other."

"Trade, education and culture open the doors for a long-lasting relationship and as civil servants or professors, we become facilitators of this well-intentioned exchange between both sides," he added.


Hidalgo feels grateful for his life in China, as well as for his wife Zhou Jie, from whom he has learned a lot. "Having married a citizen of this country has undoubtedly taught me many things about the culture, gastronomy, saving up money, which is almost a national culture, and honoring debts," he said.

In his opinion, China has reached unprecedented levels of development because the country's growth is directly tied to the personal growth of every individual. "By caring for people and investors and providing a safe environment in which to thrive, the development of cities and people has been widely enhanced," he said.

Currently, China exports approximately 4,000 types of products to Ecuador, while services related to technology, banking, education and, more recently, biotechnology, are important components of the relationship.

In addition to his deep-rooted gratitude toward China, Hidalgo relishes his life in Shanghai. Only 500 meters from his home, there is a large theater where he regularly enjoys performances, in addition to all the other cultural and gastronomic possibilities that the Pearl of the Orient has to offer.

Although Hidalgo was born and bred in Ecuador, the country to which he traces his roots and family—his mother and siblings, whom he loves "with all of his soul," China has also become his home. "I still envision my future as a bridge between Ecuador and China, so that both cultures may flourish together and our people can walk hand in hand."

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

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