Qingdao a hot spot for foreigners

By Hu Qing ( China Daily )

Updated: 2015-04-30

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Natural environment and fast-growing economy make city an attractive destination

Long favored by travelers for its beautiful coastline and undulating mountain views, Qingdao, an economic hub and resort destination in East China's Shandong province, has become an increasingly hot spot for foreign experts to live and work.

It was ranked as the fifth most attractive Chinese city by international professionals in a recent survey named 2014 Amazing China - The Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Foreigners.

 Qingdao a hot spot for foreigners

Qingdao's stunning cityscapes, natural scenery and outdoor attractions (above and below) make it a growing favorite with international professionals. Photos provided to China Daily

Qingdao a hot spot for foreigners

The survey was jointly held by the China Association for International Exchange of Personnel and the Beijing magazine International Talent Monthly. Beginning from July 2014, 77,000 ballots were collected from foreign experts and tourists in China.

The city's living environment is the primary reason that foreign experts come to live in Qingdao, which includes excellent city planning, friendly residents, a natural environment and good education for foreign children, said Chen Huabei, director of the information center of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

"In addition, its fast-growing economy also presents great career opportunities for expats and business opportunities for investors," Chen said.

Eric Blocher, director of communication at the Qingdao Amerasia International School, said the city has charmed the world for the past century and is blessed with a favorable natural environment. Its beautiful beaches, sailing events and a wide range of other water sports, plus an increasing number of skyscrapers, a garden-like city vista, great seafood and international cuisine all add to its charm.

"People here are proud of their heritage but welcoming to outsiders. Local people love to share their Tsingtao beer with visitors. The city is growing and changing every moment, with new amenities and infrastructure, but it still manages to feel rather calm and settled."

Professor Wolfgang Kubin, chairman of the German language and literature department at Ocean University of China, who won the 2013 Johann Heinrich Voss Award for Translation, the highest honor for translators in Germany, said he fell in love with the city when he discovered Badaguan, a picturesque health resort featuring well-preserved historic villas and floral scenery throughout the year.

"The city's German heritage leaves it a remarkable bonanza of century-old European architecture where I can find the historic and cultural connections between my hometown and China, and that's why I chose Qingdao to work and stay," he said.

Clean air is also essential when foreigners consider staying. With no heavy industries in the downtown area, Qingdao's residents saw 262 days of blue sky last year.

"Modern facilities and internationalized services have made life much easier for foreigners and it doesn't feel like being in a country that is thousands of miles away," Kubin said.

The city has nine five-star and 30 four-star hotels, 12 international schools, 28 foreign financial institutions, and a number of international supermarkets and convenience stores. Many hospitals offer English, Korean and Japanese language services and the first foreign-invested hospital, United Family, which accepts foreign healthcare insurance, recently opened in the city.

Alan Yau, general manager of Crown Plaza Qingdao, who is originally from Hong Kong, said the city has great resources to attract resort and business travelers and foreign experts, and he expects business to improve even more when the subway opens by the end of the year.

In 2014, 2,688 foreign experts were recruited for positions in Qingdao, taking the number of certified foreign experts in the city to 12,000.

Qingdao a hot spot for foreigners

As the city plays an increasing role in implementing China's Belt and Road Initiative - to boost trade and cooperation across a vast region spanning Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Asia, Qingdao faces immense investment and development opportunities for people from around the world.

The marine economy and modern service sectors feature in the city's new era of growth. While upgrading its dominant industries, such as machinery, rail equipment and shipbuilding, Qingdao also aspires to transform itself with fast-growing sectors including finance, head offices, technology, culture and exhibition.

In October, the 2014 China Ocean Economic International Talent and Industry Academy Research Cooperation Conference in Qingdao signed 78 major contracts and 540 letters of intent among a large number of businesses, research and development institutions and business incubators. Letters of intent were also signed for 20 professionals to settle in Qingdao through the "Recruitment Program of Global Experts" (1,000 Talents Plan).

To attract more foreign professionals, the city has reached beyond its borders and set up 11 recruiting stations in areas with a concentration of universities and research institutions in countries including the United States, Britain and Germany.

At home, Qingdao has streamlined procedures for foreign professionals to obtain legal documents to live and work in the city and 32 high-level foreign experts were granted long-term working visas ranging from three to five years in 2014.

The Qingdao Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs approved 42 talent recruiting projects with 8.51 million yuan ($1.37 million) funding in 2014.


(China Daily 04/30/2015 page12)