Top expat executives leaving Beijing over chronic air pollution

Published:  3 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: China, Jobs, Euro
As pollution in Beijing and other mega-Chinese cities reaches dangerous levels with no remedy in sight, scores of top expat executives are packing up and leaving.

Regular hospital visits as a result of high levels of pollution are becoming the norm for many expats living and working in China’s huge cities, with many being advised by medical professionals to leave the country or risk serious harm to their long-term health. The pollution scandal is also discouraging would-be executive employees from taking on jobs in the booming country.

High-level recruitment firms specialising in top jobs in the Chinese arms of international companies are feeling the pinch, with top talent preferring to relocate elsewhere. According to the European Chamber of Commerce, expat employees at managerial level are citing pollution as a major factor in their decisions to leave.

Employers in China are expressing concern that commercial opportunities may be lost without highly-qualified expat talent in their executive positions. The country’s rapid development since the 1980s has resulted in a huge increase in coal-burning heavy industry plants, and car ownership as a badge of status has rocketed.

Chinese residents in the worst-affected cities are as concerned as expats about the risks to health of high levels of pollution in the air, water and soil. Discontent with the seeming lack of concern showed by the Communist Party rulers is growing daily.

Foreign resident are glued to the daily air quality readings posted by the US Embassy and other consulates, using the information to cancel runs or keep their children inside. In January, the Beijing readings went off the scale and were reported in China’s state media, an unusual occurrence prompted by pressure from the Chinese middle classes.
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