Editor’s note: Have you wondered what the sound of a deflating balloon with Chinese characteristics sounds like? It sounds like a sad trombone. Yes, the news that has been well-known among expats is finally dawning upon Chinese: the “laowai” is leaving, and he’s not coming back. In this translated Chinese article, the writer states some familiar facts to the expat community but also supports it with some shocking travel statistics. |
According to statistics released by the Chinese Domestic Tourist Department, the total number of foreigners coming to China for business and tourism only amounted to 12,759,100 visitors for the time period of January to June of this year, a drop of 5.18% from the same time period last year.
Aside from a slight increase of African tourists, the total number of visitors entering China from January to June from other parts of Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania have seen varying degrees of decline. The recorded 1,399,200 visitors from Japan during the same time period marks a 25.5% decrease from last year, and the 221,500 Japanese tourists that entered China in the month of June represents a 30.22% decrease from 2012.
The scope of the vast decrease of tourists visiting Beijing has been particularly shocking. As numbers from the Beijing Tourism Department show, there were only 1.9 million visitors to the city of Beijing during the first six months of this year, a 15% drop in visitors when compared to the same time last year. This past June, the number of foreign visitors to China was 19% less than the numbers recorded for last year.Expat blogs and articles signal the end
In times up to the present, China had acted as the head of the “BRIC” countries and fuelled the engine that powered the growing world economy with its “high-grade ore”. The recent perspective of many foreign media publications has been that foreigners come to China to gain opportunities and make money. However, a change started from last August. The news that foreigners stationed in China were leaving to return home started to be seen in newspapers throughout the world, signalling an “expat exodus”.
Source: SoniaT 360
It was at that time that Englishman Mark Kitto, successful entrepreneur and long-time China expat who had his two children here with his Chinese wife, had an article published in Prospect Magazine. This article, titled “You’ll Never Be Chinese – Why I’m Leaving the Country I Loved”, represented the phenomenon of foreigners leaving China en masse. In March, 2013, the website of CNN Financial News published an article written by the Dutch founder of video-sharing website Tudou, Marc van der Chijs. In the article, van der Chijs stated that he is “leaving Beijing to reside in Vancouver”. As well, documentarian Charlie Custer also published an article around the same time that announced his intention to leave China.Competition facing foreigners living in China is becoming more intense
Starting from December 1, 2010, the tax system governing both domestic and foreign-invested enterprises have been unified. As a result, the tax polices enjoyed by foreign enterprises as a result of “trans-national treatment” has come to an end. And as the Chinese economy slows down and competition in the market becomes more intense, living as a foreigner in China has become more difficult.
At present, not only do the foreigners in China have to compete with the other foreigners stationed in China but also have to contend with young graduates and older Chinese that have undergone higher learning; this is especially the case with competition from Chinese overseas students that have returned to China.
“Before the year 2006, you could come to China and get paid for writing just about anything on the back of an envelope; this goes for myself as well,” said Anne Stevenson Yang to a reporter with the Chinese version of Business Week. Yang is from the USA and is one of the founders of J Capital Research, a stocks and bond analysis firm headquartered in Beijing. Yang has spent 21 years in China, but has already sold off her home here and is preparing to purchase a home in New York.
The hidden and high costs of coming to China
The problems are many: the “Air Apocalypse” of China’s north-east in January; internationally broadcasted news of Chinese parents panic buying milk powder from international outlets all over the world highlighting the issue of food safety; and, the rising Chinese Yuan. It is these issues that are prompting foreigners in China to plan their eventual retreat, triggering an “expat exodus”.“You read about the ‘heavy fog’, news about food products… frankly speaking, all the news you read about is negative,” said Frank Eric, a spokesperson with a tourist agency in Munich, Germany during an interview with the Associated Press. This situation is analogous to the March 11 earthquake in Japan in which long queues of approximately 2500 people in length, would line up to exit the country due to fears of radiation contamination.
Founder of Tudou, van der Chijs explains that the reasons for leaving China are very simple. “The pollution is too heavy, food safety has problems, and the increasing difficulty for foreigners to do business in China.” It is that last point that many other people also sympathize with. Shaun Rein, a member of a market research think tank in China, wrote an article in Business Weekly that highlighted the problems faced by foreigners in China. In his opinion, “although corruption and illegal activities can be found everywhere, foreigners still want to set up enterprises in China. [Foreigners] have to abide by the law, pay domestic taxes; everything they do must be ‘on the table’.” However, foreigners are also likely to face “unwanted risks” that threaten their companies’ livelihood. A classic example of this would be the recent scandal involving bribery and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Coupled with the above mentioned problems is also the issue of long-term visa restrictions, or as some reports have suggested, reluctance on the part of China to grant Chinese green cards to foreign nationals. Most working expats live here on a year to year basis, haunted by fears of not getting their visas successfully renewed. In a country where even “old China hands” are regarded as temporary guests and where a truly international environment seems out of reach, it seems that China is advertently keeping its doors only slightly open. Is it any wonder then that foreigners are choosing to leave?
Source: QQ News