Expats in China in go or stay quandary

Published:  23 Oct at 6 PM
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A question which has been simmering under the surface for some while in the Chinese expat community has now surfaced – should expats stay or go?

The dilemma was brought into the public domain by two well-known old China hands, one of whom had lived in China for 16 years and another who was the owner of a popular expat blog. Both wrote articles which made similar points, thus bringing the question out of the shadows.

Mark Kitto, former British publisher of an English language magazine recently closed down by the Chinese government and American filmmaker and tech writer Charlie Custer both quoted concerns such as air pollution, unsafe food, pesticide usage, poisoned milk and rigid education policies. However, the nub of their comments seems to be the rise of prejudice against expats in the Chinese community.

Over 220,000 expat businessmen, journalists, academics, teachers and entrepreneurs at present call China their home, with many disagreeing with Kitto and Custer, saying that those who emigrate to China must learn the rules of the road. One of the crucial rules is that migrants, whatever their field of expertise, will never be allowed to operate as do the Chinese as the playing field is far from level.

Growing expat concerns are also focusing on China’s oppressive political system and the possibility that it may finally provoke unrest in the country. Diminishing opportunities in the shrinking economy are another grouse amongst expat entrepreneurs, as is the influence of the state on individual business decisions

.It seems that the Chinese themselves are also growing uneasy, with members of the elite and some government officials quietly arranging foreign residency for at lease their families, according to reports in the state-owned media. China, one well-known expat in the financial sector states, is run by an elite bureaucracy which wants neither foreign participation nor its input.
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