Shanghai 'heaven' for expatriates

By Wang Hongyi and Qian Yanfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-02 07:44

SHANGHAI: For 28-year-old Selvamaniam Kosala, working in Shanghai is both a refreshing and rewarding experience.

The electronics engineer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, moved to the city in November 2005 with her husband, a product manager for the Asia-Pacific region of Royal Philips Electronics.

Kosie, as she likes to be called, said that while she was quite content with her life and work back home, the opportunities offered in a rapidly developing China were just too good to resist.

"I think I made the right decision," Kosie said.

"The city provides great opportunities for foreigners like us who want to start a career here."

Kosie works in the technical writing division at IBM in the city's Pudong hi-tech zone.

"I have been even happier since my daughter was born 10 months ago," she said.

"She seems to like the city as much as we do, and I hope that growing up in a bilingual environment will benefit her in the future."

In recent years, Shanghai has witnessed a huge rise in the number of foreigners moving to the city to live.

According to the municipal labor and social security bureau, the number of expatriate workers living in the city grew from 4,000 in 2000 to more than 60,000 at the end of last year.

Sun Hande, director of the bureau's labor and employment center for foreigners, said: "This shows Shanghai is becoming more and more foreigner-friendly and an increasingly popular choice among expats as a place to start a new career."

The largest numbers of expats hail from Japan, the United States and South Korea.

"Most of them have good academic qualifications, with 89 percent holding bachelor's degrees or better," he said.

Most expats work for foreign firms in managerial and technical positions in areas such as real estate, banking, insurance and consultancy.

"My friends think Shanghai is heaven. This is partly because foreigners are paid more than local people, but the cost of living is low," Marie Sander, a young German woman working as an intern at a Chinese consultancy firm in Shanghai, who plans to stay after graduation in Germany, said.

Sun said foreigners looking to work in Shanghai can now apply online for an official permit and the bureau will process their applications within five days, faster than the national standard of 15 days.

Procedures at the entry-exit administration have also been simplified to encourage the inflow of foreign professionals in selected fields, Sun told China Daily.

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