China Recruitment

As the world’s second largest economy with economic growth rates that have averaged 10% over the past few decades, China is predicted by some to become the world’s largest economy in less than a decade – meaning high quality talent will find no shortage of job opportunities in China’s recruitment market.

The Chinese Diaspora, Overseas Chinese and Chinese Returnees

It is estimated that there are over 40 million overseas Chinese with most of the Chinese Diaspora living in Southeast Asia. Moreover and from 1978 to 2003, a total number of 700,200 Chinese students and scholars from Mainland China studied abroad in more than 108 countries around the world with 172,800 returning to China to become so-called Haigui or sea turtles – the nickname for all Chinese students and scholars who return from studying overseas. All told, some 630,000 Western-trained Chinese students and scholars have returned home to become Haigui with one-fifth or 135,000 of that number returning in 2010 and then another 186,200 Chinese students returned by the end of 2011.

Today, China has become the number one source for students studying abroad. In fact and in 2011, China’s Ministry of Education estimated that 1.27 million Chinese were studying abroad – a 24% increase over 2009 estimates. It was also estimated that 90% of Chinese students studying abroad were choosing to study in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore, France, Germany and Russia.

It’s worth noting that initially, Chinese students studied abroad thanks to government funded programmes that were designed to send them overseas to acquire specific knowledge and skills. Today, about 93% of Chinese students who study abroad are self-funded thanks to the country’s growing middle class. In addition and in 2010, China launched the Talent Development Plan (2010-20) to put in place favorable policies in areas such as tax, housing and children and spouse resettlement for high-caliber Chinese students who are willing to return to work in China.

On the other hand, its also worth noting that while a foreign education or international work experience in the past may have guaranteed Chinese professionals much higher salaries upon return, companies are now more careful to offer higher compensation packages to Chinese returnees who have the appropriate skills that merit higher pay than what would otherwise be offered to a local Chinese who has never lived, worked or studied abroad.

China’s Recruitment Market

Despite recent economic uncertainties about the Chinese economy and the sustainability of Chinese economic growth, high quality job candidates and professionals in China’s recruitment market across the board should never lack for job opportunities with candidates often expecting as much as 20% to 30% salary increases if they were to change jobs. However, money is not the only motivation in the Chinese recruitment market as many Chinese job candidates are increasingly putting value on work-life balance (especially female candidates who have or plan to have a child) and on the cultural fit with a perspective employer.

However, western expatriates in China seeking employment face tougher competition from overseas Chinese (e.g. from countries like Malaysia) who will also tend to speak more than one Chinese dialect. Moreover, the sheer numbers of young Westerners who have gone to China in order to learn Mandarin Chinese and to then seek employment there has pushed down their salaries as a whole. In fact and given the lack of good job opportunities in Europe and the United States right now, young Mandarin speaking Western professionals can be hired for just $2,000 a month or less in major Chinese cities.

Working in China

Foreign expatriates intending to work in China will need to obtain an Employment Visa (Z Visa) by submitting all of the necessary forms to a Chinese embassy or consulate abroad. A Chinese Employment Visa (Z Visa) will be valid for one entry and for three months. Once in China, the foreign expatriate will need to go through residential formalities with the local public security department within thirty days of entry. For further information about Chinese visas or China work permits, visit the Employment Visa (Z Visa) page on the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America.

As for taxes, China’s income tax rates are progressive and range from 5% to 45% based upon monthly income with a personal fixed monthly deduction available to individual Chinese taxpayers. It should be noted that income taxes in China are paid by employers but China domiciles and non-domiciles who are full-year residents in the country with annual incomes exceeding RMB120,000 are now required to file an annual individual income tax return on a self-declaration basis. For further information about China’s tax rates or China’s taxes in general, visit and KPMG’s Taxation of International Executives page for China.

Finally, it’s worth noting that base salaries in China are based upon 13 months with the 13th month pay being made around Chinese New Year in January or February. However, Chinese compensation packages may include bonuses equivalent to several months’ salary or more depending upon the profession and the industry sector.

China Recruitment and Jobs Resources

For additional China recruitment resources, check out the China tagged posts from our Brain Drain to Brain Gain blog as well as our China jobs page.

  • RSS China Archives – Brain Gain Asia LLC

    • Chinese students rethink studying abroad in the US September 3, 2020
      The Nikkei Asia has a lengthy article about how Chinese students are rethinking studying abroad in the USA due to COVID and tensions between the USA and China albeit Chinese students demand for overseas education remains strong. In fact, the … Continue reading → The post Chinese students rethink studying abroad in the US appeared […]
    • China’s factories struggle without key import: Foreign talent May 1, 2020
      The Nikkei Asia has noted that while China’s internal lockdowns have been lifted, some makers of electronic parts remain cut off from a vital resource for expanding production: international talent. Travel restrictions have complicated the ability of engineers from Japan, … Continue reading → The post China’s factories struggle without key import: Foreign talent appeared […]
    • China’s college graduates hit by jobs downturn amid coronavirus March 7, 2020
      The Nikkei Asia has reported a chilling job market in China as the outbreak has wreaked havoc on the country’s economy. Companies are reluctant to expand their operations and even if they are hiring, few are interested in those fresh … Continue reading → The post China’s college graduates hit by jobs downturn amid coronavirus […]
    • Young Chinese workers aren’t like their elders February 22, 2019
      Jason Tu, co-founder and chief executive of MioTech (an artificial intelligence platform for financial institutions), has written a piece for the Nikkei Asia noting how outspoken young Chinese employees are no longer rare given the 400 million Chinese born between … Continue reading → The post Young Chinese workers aren’t like their elders appeared first […]
    • American Entrepreneurs Who Flocked to China Are Heading Home, Disillusioned December 10, 2018
      The Wall Street Journal has a lengthy article about how it’s gotten much harder for expat entrepreneurs in China. Specifically, “soaring costs, creeping taxation, tightening political control and capricious regulation that makes it ever tougher to maneuver the market and … Continue reading → The post American Entrepreneurs Who Flocked to China Are Heading Home, […]
    • The American Dream Is Alive. In China. November 20, 2018
      According to a recent New York Times’ article, the American dream is alive – in China. The article noted how not only are incomes drastically rising within families, but sons are outearning their fathers. For example: “It feels like there … Continue reading → The post The American Dream Is Alive. In China. appeared first […]
    • Belt and read: How China is exporting education and influence to Malaysia and other Asean countries August 2, 2017
      The South China Morning Post has a lengthy article about how Xiamen University Malaysia, a China-backed university that opened last year, is the model for President Xi Jinping’s vision of exporting education in order to marry Beijing’s trade ambitions with … Continue reading → The post Belt and read: How China is exporting education and […]
    • Asia has some of the most expensive cities for expats June 24, 2017
      Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey finds African, Asian, and European cities dominating the list of most expensive locations for expats working abroad: Five of the top 10 cities in this year’s ranking are in Asia with Hong Kong (2) … Continue reading → The post Asia has some of the most expensive cities for […]
    • Why it’s much harder for expat bankers to land a Hong Kong job June 16, 2017
      Bloomberg has reported that more and more, even experienced expat bankers are struggling to find and keep jobs in Hong Kong if they don’t speak Mandarin. The same goes for those without a mastery of China’s business culture or connections … Continue reading → The post Why it’s much harder for expat bankers to land […]
    • China’s booming ‘rent a foreigner’ industry June 12, 2017
      The South China Morning Post has profiled China’s “rent a foreigner” industry as it’s not uncommon for Chinese companies to hire foreigners, especially white Westerners, to represent them in public relations-type roles. Many Chinese equate Caucasian faces with business success … Continue reading → The post China’s booming ‘rent a foreigner’ industry appeared first on […]

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