Saturday, March 22, 2014

Expats leaving China's big cities

I had the opportunity of visiting Shanghai some years ago. It is the largest Chinese city with a population of roughly 20-24 million people living in Greater Shanghai. In my first visit I was simply awed by the sky-scrappers that dotted the city. I have never seen as many construction related works as I witnessed in that city. It won't be any exaggeration to say that some of the most gorgeous high-rises are in Shanghai. They are simply breathtaking, of course, if one could only see these structures clearly. And that is where the problem lies.  

Shanghai is probably one of the worst polluted cities in the world. Most days, you won't be lucky to see much. The city is all covered in thick smog, requiring most residents to use face masks when they go out of their homes.

Beijing, the capital city, is no better. Many foreigners live in both these major cities working for mostly multi-national companies. And now with thick smogs many expats are leaving these cities. As a result, recruiters say foreign enterprises are having increasing difficulty attracting top talent to The Middle Kingdom as many refuse to move, citing Beijing’s worsening air quality. Some of these companies have taken radical measures. Some offer higher compensation or flexible packages such as paying weekly plane tickets for their executives to see their families settled elsewhere in Asia.
Many are installing sophisticated air filtering systems in the work place and offering to pay for air filters for their employees’ homes. Compulsory masks are offered, as well as information campaigns on health risks of pollution.

You can read a BBC report on this subject by clicking here.

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