The number of highly-qualified overseas professionals choosing to work and live in China has bumped up, by virtue of Chinese strong economy, dynamic market, infinity of job opportunity and the eased immigration policies. The Global Expatriate Survey reported China has ranked third in the most popular immigration countries below Switzerland and Singapore.
The famous Chinese saying used to prevail for decades on the grounds that the moon abroad was brighter than the domestic one, which depicted the Chinese worshipped and coveted the affluent and lavish lifestyle in the foreign countries. But now, 40 odd years later since the Chinese government initiated the country’s economic reforms and opening up, the country has morphed into a World Gold Mine with velocity of its economic progression and enormity of jobs and career opportunities, hence, many talented foreigners are on the lookout for a vibrant lifestyle and career success in China. In the early 20th century, people across the world flooded into California, USA, during the Gold Rush, hoping to be catapulted into the rich overnight. Today more and more foreign professionals wish to seize boundless opportunities with a vice-like grip in China and flaunt their savvy in foreign trade, industrial manufacture, finance, investment, technology, design, architecture and tourism, etc. According to the trend of overseas talent recruitment, the number of expatriates in Beijing working in management roles accounts for 60.6% of the total immigrants nationwide and there has been a rapid rise in salary up to 50-80% since 2016. The question therefore has surfaced where it would be the best Chinese cities for these highly talented to dabble into a new and cryptic lifestyle.
Held in Shenzhen, China, in April 2019, the 17th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals announced the result of Charming China (the most desirable Chinese cities in the eyes of foreign talent). The event was hosted by the Foreign Talent Exchange magazine and all the voters involved were overseas professionals only. The panellists included members of the Nobel Prize winners, the Chinese Government Friendship Award winners and the 1,000 Talent Program project candidates.
Below are the top 5 crowned cities in rank order: Shanghai, Beijing, Hefei, Hangzhou and Shenzhen.
As the hub of the country’s economy and finance, Shanghai has set out a series of favourable policies and measures, called Talent 20 Items and Talent 30 Items in recent years, in order to improve the working and living standard and environment to draw the highly-skilled foreigners to the city. Based on the official statistics, the number of the overseas talent working in Shanghai reaches 210,000 (24% of the total expatriates nationally). There are 55 foreign experts receiving the Friendship Award issued by the Chinese government. The city proactively pushes forward a system of work permits and visas and introduces a new recruitment policy reform. Being a pilot city, Shanghai strives for optimizing a business environment and advocating an easy and convenient visa application procedure and method, in order to tally with the needs of the vibrant market and the overseas professionals.
Being an international communication centre, Beijing has made important headway in putting forward systematic policies and regulations to further develop a working mechanism for the international talent, build the tip-top business environment to entice these talent, improve the capital’s internationalization status and speed up the process to recruit overseas job seekers. These strategic moves aim to establish Beijing as the first class and harmonious international city.
In January 2019, the work station to provide the administrative service to the highly-skilled foreigners saw the light of the day in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. Aided by the government, the time span used for the foreigners to apply for jobs has been flat shortened. The Beijing government hopes to facilitate the foreigners’ job hunt and their integration into local life by introducing less stringent and hassle-free procedures and quality customer service.
This year, Hefei defeated Hangzhou and jumped to the Top3 by capitalizing on its perks of recruiting the foreign talent. The city was decidedly a dark horse in the oversea recruitment market. The Hefei Foreign Experts Bureau data shows the city is bountiful of resources in science and education, with distribution of 60 colleges and universities and 13 Hefei-based national scientific and research institutions, including Hefei Institute of Material Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the number of the staff working in science and technology exceeding 600,000.
According to a report from the British journal Nature, Hefei ranks the 3rd in basic scientific research inside the country, trailing behind Beijing and Shanghai. The result may reflect the fact the Chinese cities like Hefei which have prowess and prospect in technological innovation will possibly act as a magnet for the highly-skilled foreign talent.
Since first launched in 2010, Hangzhou each year has been among the top-ranked candidates in Charming China. In 2017, the number of high talented foreign professionals and Chinese overseas graduates working in the city exceeds any other Chinese cities, with 29,000 higher degree overseas Chinese graduates and 15,000 highly skilled foreigners. In 2018, the Hangzhou Municipal Government and the National Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs collaborated and built the first ever foreign entrepreneurial innovation park inside the country with the aim of recruiting high-end overseas talent in technology, projects and fundraising.
In 2018 alone, the city which has more than 4,980 registered foreign companies jauntily welcomed the internationally influential visitors, like the Nobel Prize winner Rolf M. Zinkernagel, the Turing Award winner John Hopcroft, New Zealand Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Paul Goldsmith, the Israeli Ambassador to China He Zewei, the author of A Brief History of Humanity Yuval Halli, the internationally-renowned geneticist and biologist Michael Snyder, and the Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake.
As a byword for innovation, Shenzhen's ability in reform and its excellent business environment are in the spotlight. At the conference, the host city was extolled by George Smoot, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics. He addressed Shenzhen is formidably competitive in the market and it’s one of the innovation centres for global hardware and software, with successful implementation of the business environment, transportation and infrastructure. The immigrant city is young and embraces inclusiveness and innovativeness. Its demand to recruit a wide scope of highly-skilled overseas professionals makes the city a perfect destination for the talent.