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For expats, Shanghai tops list for desirability again

2015-03-09 08:47 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
Shanghai Tower (the highest in the picture), a new landmark of Shanghai's financial hub Lujiazui, is nearly complete. (Provided to China Daily)

Shanghai Tower (the highest in the picture), a new landmark of Shanghai's financial hub Lujiazui, is nearly complete. (Provided to China Daily)

Shanghai has for the third time topped the list of the 10 most attractive Chinese cities for expats, on a survey being released on Monday.

The financial hub scored highest in the ranking's four important indexes for foreigners to evaluate cities, including the policies for foreign professionals, the working environment and the living environment.

The other nine cities on the list are, in order from No 2, Beijing, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Xiamen and Kunming.

This is the fifth time the ranking, organized by the International Talent magazine and China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development, has been released. Between July and December, nearly 20,000 foreign professionals throughout China participated in the survey.

Shanghai has become one of the hottest destinations in China for foreigners to work and study and has more than 88,000 resident foreign experts, one-sixth of the national total.

Noyan Rona, 59, of Turkey, the chief representative of Turkish Garanti Bank's Shanghai office, has lived in the city for almost 20 years.

Rona named some reasons he loved Shanghai: It "is more open; people here are flexible; and it's convenient to reside here. The forestation, the working efficiency and transparency of the governmental offices-all these are good."

The report also cited several aspects that expats thought Shanghai could improve.

About 40 percent said the environment in Shanghai-such as the air and water quality-is not good enough; 14.3 percent hoped for improvements in the service provided by the government, the social security system and the infrastructure, such as the traffic system.

More than half of the respondents hoped departments or organizations in Shanghai would improve medical insurance and service for foreigners, and simplify the procedures for them to enter the country.

Wang Huiyao, director of the China Center for Globalization, a think tank in Beijing, said, "Chinese cities' attraction to foreigners will increase dramatically if the government takes a step forward in issues such as medical insurance, visas and green cards."

More than a third of expats want to stay in China

More than a third of expats who participated in the survey said they wished to live in China in the long term (33.9 percent). There is a relatively large gender difference, where 38.8 percent of men expressed a stronger intention to remain in China, more than 10 percent higher than that for women (25.6 percent).

Furthermore, more older foreign professionals, especially those more than 40 years of age, said they wished to live in China in the long term. Willingness to stay for expats older than 50 (45.2 percent) was more than double of that in younger professionals aged from 18 to 30 (21.9 percent).

Single expats don't mind marrying Chinese

The mentality for expats living in China has shifted from a sense of "strangeness" to a sense of "belonging."

More than half of single foreign professionals (55.2 percent) said they don't mind marrying a local Chinese. The percentage for those who don't mind their children marrying Chinese is even higher, a striking number at 71.3 percent.

To Majdi Alhmah, a Syrian Director General Manager of BFG International China in Changchun, Jilin province, who has married a Chinese woman, the city of Changchun has given him plenty of warmth.

"Chinese people view family values very importantly, I really appreciate this. My biggest achievement and happiness after coming to China is them (referring to his wife and their son.) I am half Chinese in my bones," said Alhmah.

Localization and domestication

Smart phone app WeChat has surpassed Weibo as the most favored app for connecting with family and friends for expats.

In a multi-answer question, 66.5 percent of expats said they use WeChat. Facebook, the world's largest photo sharing application, ranked second at 56.6 percent. Thirty-nine percent use Tencent QQ and the user rate for Weibo was only 22.4 percent.

Use of social media was widely localized but more than half of expats living in China (52.8 percent) still chose to read news from home. Only 28.3 percent of participants answered that they read news released from Chinese media, but this tendency expressed a positive correlation with the age of expats.

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