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Shanghai's foreign experts soar past 2015 target

2014-07-18 10:34 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
In this 2011 file photo, a foreign young woman applies for a position in a local company at a job fair especially designed for expats in Shanghai. — Wang Rongjiang/Shanghai Daily

In this 2011 file photo, a foreign young woman applies for a position in a local company at a job fair especially designed for expats in Shanghai. — Wang Rongjiang/Shanghai Daily

The number of foreign experts in Shanghai has doubled since 2010 under government efforts to attract foreign talent, as China aims to entice more skilled foreign professionals to spur the country's development.

Shanghai is home to about 165,000 foreign experts who have been working in Shanghai for more than six months. That number has already exceeded a goal of 160,000 set in a city talent plan for 2015, said Huang Weimao, deputy director of Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, in an exclusive interview with Shanghai Daily.

Huang said about 85,000 foreign experts work in government offices, state-owned companies, schools and scientific research institutes. They account for one-sixth of the total number of foreign experts in these sectors throughout China. Only Guangdong Province has more than Shanghai. The remaining 80,000 foreign experts work for private Chinese and foreign companies.

Nearly half of the foreign experts in Shanghai work in the business area in such positions as economists, company managers and chief accountants.

About a third are technical professionals who play an important role in the construction of many international projects such as the maglev train and Shanghai International Automobile Park. The rest are cultural and educational experts including teachers, artists, media staff and sports coaches.

Huang said the quality of foreign experts in Shanghai has risen as the city has developed into a more sophisticated city. Among them are Anthony J. Leggett, the Nobel Prize winner in physics in 2003, and Annette D.S.M. Nijs, former State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands.

Huang said supporting measures from the local government give Shanghai a major advantage in attracting foreign talent.

"As a government, we must take the lead in creating conditions and channels for foreigners to come so that they can see how they can display their talent and continue their career here," Huang said.

In 2013, the local government spent over 10 million yuan (US$1.61 million) on funding 160 initiatives to lure foreign experts to Shanghai.

Experts who arrived last year came from more than 30 countries, including the US, Japan and Brazil. They serve in more than 20 industries that include medical, energy, biology, media and automobile.

"We welcome not only experts from developed countries, but also from developing countries and with strengths in a specialized area," Huang said.

To help foreign experts live a better life in Shanghai, the city provides high subsidies, especially to high-end professionals.

For example, foreign experts who are in the "One Thousand Talent Plan for Foreign Experts" program by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs will enjoy an annual medical insurance worth 50,000 yuan if they are employed by Shanghai companies, and a one-time subsidy of 200,000 yuan if they have worked for one year on the job, Huang said.

"We must ensure our policy is good enough to keep our foreign experts in Shanghai," Huang said. "The last thing we want to see is experts leaving for financial reasons."

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