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This article, translated from Wenxuecity.com, discusses possible reasons behind the continuing decrease in foreigners choosing to live in Beijing. The article cites pollution and safety concerns as main reasons for the decline; however, it makes no mention of the increasingly tightening visa restrictions, which is certainly a contributing factor to the continuing trend.
As China’s capital, Beijing is the center for foreign embassies, news organizations, foreign companies and all kinds of international artists. Tens of thousands of foreigners have traveled to Beijing to work and live. They are affectionately called laowai by local Beijingers. As early as the reopening of the country in the 1980s, foreigners came to Beijing. Back then they were exotic, and brought different kinds of lifestyles to the city. They have been an important part of Beijing’s internationalization, helping to create international urban spaces like Sanlitun and transform formerly abandoned factories into the 798 Art District.
When looking to measure a city’s globalization by international standards, one important indicator is the frequency of cross-border population movements and the maturity of foreign communities within the cities. Beijing reportedly has 200,000 expatriates living in the city. Data shows that in September of this year, there were about 37,000 long term work visa holders.
According to reports from the Beijing Exit-Entry Administration Bureau, in 2010, about 46,000 foreigners were issued a residence permit for work purposes. This number was nearly 10 percent higher than the number of foreigners with work permits in 2009, and 1.7 times higher than before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. From this data, it is easy to see that the number of foreigners working in Beijing peaked around 2010 and then began to fall.