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Expats prefer Beijing, Shanghai

By Chen Xin in Beijing and Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-11 13:49

 Expats prefer Beijing, Shanghai

Pupils whose parents are foreigners write Spring Festival couplets with their classmates in Wu'ai Primary School in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, in January. About 500 children of expats live and receive education in the city. Zhang Jiancheng / China Daily

The living environment has become a growing concern for expatriates working in Shanghai and Beijing, although the two cities topped a list of the most attractive Chinese cities for expats, a new study found.

The survey - 2012 Amazing China, conducted between September and December by International Talent, a magazine under the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs - gauged views of 175,400 expats working in China about their favorite Chinese cities.

Among those expats, 1,050 were surveyed about their opinions on the policy, administration, and working and living environments of their cities.

Shanghai and Beijing were topped the list, followed by Shenzhen, Suzhou, Kunming, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Xiamen and Qingdao.

In Shanghai and Beijing, their living-environment scores were lower than those of other cities, said Zhang Xiao, who was in charge of the survey.

Cities such as Suzhou, Kunming and Hangzhou received comparatively high scores in living environment, and that helped boost their rankings, she said.

Despite topping the chart for three years, Beijing and Shanghai underperformed this time in living environment as foreigners living in these two cities have complained about the worsening air pollution, according to the survey.

The smog-shrouded sky over Beijing is discouraging expats from staying longer and scaring away others who would otherwise love to visit, work, and live in the city, the study showed.

"Recruitment has become difficult as the number of foreigners who are applying for teaching positions in Beijing has decreased by at least half compared with the same time last year," said Yang Sha, general manager with Angelina International Placement Service in Beijing, which specializes in hiring foreigners to teach languages in schools in China.

"Air quality is absolutely the main reason," he said.

All four foreign staff members in Yang's company left Beijing this year because of the smog.

One left for the southern city of Xiamen, Fujian province, and the others went back to their home countries, Yang said.

Elisabeth Anderson, a Swede who works in Beijing, said a Swedish friend of hers just left Beijing because of the air quality.

Anderson said her friend had spent most of her time working in Beijing during her 10-year stay in China.

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