Top six Chinese cities for expats

Published:  13 Jul at 6 PM
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For the new breed of adventurous expats, China is the latest attraction, but its massive size and choice of major cities can be hard to navigate.

If you’re looking for a fascinating combination of ancient culture, magnificent geographical diversity, stunning modernity and a unique, challenging environment, China is waiting for you. Six of the country’s major cities stand out as a starting point for the expat experience of a lifetime, with your choice based on your personal needs and preferences.

The massive, teeming capital of China, Beijing gives an ultra-modern environment combined with historic hutong districts and the atmospheric dynastic monuments of the ancient city. The heart of this sprawling metropolis is Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. Most international businesses are located in the Central Business District, and the city is home to Zhongguancun, China’s answer to Silicon Valley as well as several universities. Beijing is great for learning Mandarin or studying for a degree.

Shanghai’s combination of modernity and history is centred around its river, with massive skyscrapers lining the Pudong side and classical British colonial buildings on the opposite bank. The city combines East and West seamlessly, with its main industries still shipping, finance and manufacturing, and Western amenities easily found.

Shenzen’s closeness to Hong Kong is a hub for tech entrepreneurs as it welcomes foreign investment and talent. It’s a relatively new conurbation and its young population are mostly incomers looking to further their careers as well as having a good time outside work. A global financial hub, it's dotted with tech start-ups and service companies.

Historic Hangzhou is romantically beautiful, with its West Lake the centre of the city from as long ago as the thousand-year ago Southern Song dynasty. Chinese culture is all-important here, and is still a part of everyday life, with tea production and tea tastings a unique introduction to the city and its business practices.

Guangzhou is one of China’s three major economic centres, and was once an historic trading city for Silk Road travellers. Finance and commerce are still at its heart, and its closeness to Shenzen, Macao and Hong Kong has resulted in a large and varied expat community. Multinationals, tech start-ups and manufacturing offer a good choice of jobs.

Lastly, Chengdu in southwest China is another ancient city which has adjusted successfully to modern times. Famous for its panda sanctuary and bamboo forests, it’s a must for expats obsessed with China’s fascinating history. Its easy-going lifestyle centres around diverse entertainments and its commercial activities include manufacturing focused on the aero-space industry and electrical engineering.
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