How Many Foreigners are in Shanghai “Gold Rush”


From: June 2nd, 2009 “Oriental Outlook Magazine” Journalist Wenming DAI (戴闻名), Special Contributor Dan QIU (邱丹) | Reports in Shanghai

—Exclusive Interview with the director of Shanghai Municipal Foreign Employment Center, Mr. Hande SUN (孙汉德)

The cities which have the highest degree of internationalization among the international metropolis are London and New York, Hong Kong also accounts for 10%. The foreign resident population, in Shanghai is about more than 100,000, while the resident population in Shanghai is 1,600,000 or so; the percentage of foreigners only accounts for a few point percent. From the index to measure, as an international metropolis, Shanghai still has a long way to go.

It is said that Shanghai is the only city in China which sets up the exclusive “Foreign Employment Center”. And the director of Shanghai Municipal Foreign Employment Center, Mr. Hande SUN (孙汉德) has worked in the center for over 20 years; he is the person who knows most of foreigners running situation in Shanghai.

He recollected and told the “Oriental Outlook Magazine” that, at the time of setting up “Foreign Employment Center” in 1996, it was formed to live in a cramped information office located in the old municipal government building at Jiangxi Road and Jiujiang Road where Chen Yi (陈毅) worked there before, only more than 10 square meters, very disgraceful. In 1998, it moved to No.45 Anyuan Road, “it was only a piece zoned in the corner of the hall, in the hot weather, even the air couldn’t flow, very humid.” Afterward, Labor Bureau combined with Social Security Bureau, the center moved to South Zhongshan Road, the whole lobby on the ground floor became into the employment center for the foreigners and people from Taiwan, Hongkong & Macau, the space enlarged into over 500 square meters. It is much more brilliant.

Now, the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Employment Center locates on the 2nd Floor of a superior business building in the north bund, with an area of 1000 square meters and 28 staffs, very light and spacious. The foreigners who wait for registering their employments take the number from the machine and wait quietly and orderly.

With the experience of 4-time-moving and continuous expansion, it is closely related to the changes in trend of foreigners’ numbers during the past 13 years in Shanghai. In Hande SUN’s (孙汉德) office, he explained to the “Oriental Outlook Magazine” regarding the changes in the last 13 years with the figures.

13 years increased by 13 times

The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: In which year did the Foreign Employment make the first foreign employment registration? What about the number of registration in that year? What is the number of up-to-date statistics?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): Shanghai Municipal Labor Bureau started to have the overall management of foreign employment in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Ministry of Labor in 1996. In that year, the Ministry of Labor presented a unified employment permit of foreigners, the whole licensing of Shanghai was 5,000. No. 001 Permit of the applicants, that means, the first foreigner registered the employment in Shanghai, was the Japanese Qilunkangfu (其轮康夫), the chief operator of XiaoLi Machine Co. Ltd. He is still working in Shanghai.

From 1996 to 2000, the annual registration number changed not too much, basically fixed at four or five thousand people.
The Changes occurred after the Asian financial crisis. 2003 was a breakthrough year. Despite the year of the SARS epidemic in China – normally the numbers of foreigners’ coming to China should have been reduced, but in that year that was particular more, it doubled over the previous year, breaking the 10,000 people mark. Just in that year, for health considerations, we had to install the glass at the counter.
On December 31, 2003, we made the statistics of the new increasing number of foreigners in that year; it was a very lucky number: 11118. For this abnormal growth, I think, it was due to the economy recovery after the financial turmoil, while in China was particularly important.

Then in 2006 there was another breakthrough and doubled again, the number of newly foreigners’ registration exceeded more than 20,000.
In 2008, the number of newly registered people was 25,000 and the sum of foreigner employment in Shanghai was 68,600, together with families and students the current foreign residents in Shanghai is about 100,000.
From 1996 to 2009, from 68,600 to more than 5000, the number increases by 13 times within 13 years.
In addition, since 1998, the database of foreigners in Shanghai was established. Since 2002, the online registration also was launched. At my place, the admissibility is around four to five hundreds every day (including new additions, extensions, amendments), of which about 1/3 (around 150) is processed online.

Most Japanese, Secondly Americans

The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: How is the distribution of alien’s nationality in 13 years?

Hande SUN (孙汉德): Japanese are always the most, I remember in the peak time of the year 2000, among the newly registered foreigners, Japanese accounted for 1/3, 35%, now is almost 25%. Americans have always the second place and account for 10%-12%.

The third position has being changed over the past few years. A few years ago, Singaporean and people from Southeast Asia are relatively more, but more Koreans come over the past few years, especially in the last three years. However, from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, South Koreans started to decrease. In the Gubei Area where the Korean people gathered, many shops are closed. Due to the financial turmoil in Asia, there was the greatest impact on South Korea, and it reflected so fast from my work. Since the crisis, South Koreans reduced by 20% ~ 30%.
The financial turmoil has greatly affected the employment of foreigners. After the financial turmoil, the cancellation of the employment permit became more; the number of cancellation was equal to the new registration. The new registration in the third quarter of last year was 9,000, in the fourth quarter only 4,000 people. First quarter of this year compared with the same period last year decreased by 17%.

Secondly, the relative large number of employment registration in Shanghai is followed Singaporean, German, French, Canadian, Malaysian, Australian and the British. One side, this is in direct proportion to the investments from those counties in Shanghai, such as Germany. In addition, because of the similar geography, cultural background between Southeast Asian countries and China, people from those areas come here relatively more. Especially in the service industry and most are the Singaporean and Malaysians.
Among them, Singaporeans have a particularly large number. In the new foreign registration each year, Singaporeans account for 6%. For this country with the small population, that number is relatively high. Most Singaporeans can speak well Chinese and English, and they have much international communication, these are the advantages.

The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: In which industry are they mainly engaged in Shanghai?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): There are two major industries: services and manufacturing sectors. People who are engaged in the service industry account for 50% and 30% in manufacturing. At present, the classification of the industry is still relatively rough, banking, finance, computers, real estate and other property are all belonging to the service industry.
In addition, the employment of foreigners in Shanghai is also relatively with high levels. Last Christmas, we sent the greeting cards to the foreigners who are above the title of general manager in Shanghai, a total number of more than 6,000. There is also a commonality that is they are all with higher educations. 90% are above undergraduate.
The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: In terms of age, of which age has the most employment in Shanghai?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): 31 ~ 40-year-old are the most, accounting for 35%. Secondly are below 30-year-old, accounting for 25%. Less people at 41 ~ 50-year-old, accounting for 22%; People over the age of 50 accounts for more than 10 percent. Most of them are the young generation.

The Foreign Residents In Shanghai Only Account For Very Little Percent Of The Total Population
The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: Currently, does the center make the specialized statistical data of “employment” and “starting businesses”?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): The “employment” and “starting businesses” has not yet separated. But we are updating the database. It is expected to develop into a “data warehouse” at the end of this year, which has a R&D process. Since the foreign employment center established, the total foreign employment registration in Shanghai is around 130,000 people, and we will accumulate and manage with those people in the future.

The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: Regarding the proportion of foreign residents, how about the comparison between Shanghai and other international metropolis?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): In this respect Shanghai still has the big gap.
London and New York have the highest degree of internationalization, Hong Kong also accounts for 10%. The foreign resident population in Shanghai is about more than 100,000, while the resident population in Shanghai is 1,600,000 or so; the percentage of foreigners is very little. To achieve at 5%, the number should be 800,000 – 900,000 (foreign residents), Shanghai still has a big gap.

From the index to measure, as an international metropolis, Shanghai still has a long way to go.
This is closely related to the whole economic development and the attraction of talent in Shanghai.

Expo Will Bring A Climax Of Foreign Employment
The “Oriental Outlook Magazine”: before and after the Expo, the foreign employment should have a climax, right? Will the Center come up with the specific measures to deal with it?
Hande SUN (孙汉德): Yes, before and after the Expo, there will be a new climax in the foreign employment. At present, some national and enterprises exhibitors have already transacted with formalities. It is expected to increase at the end of this year.

Therefore, we have begun to make preparations, mainly for offering the necessary facilities. Now, before a person’s entering into China, the employer should apply with the employment permit for him/her, and then apply for a professional visa application, by virtue of these documents, he/she could apply for the employment visa at Chinese embassies and consulates in order to enter into China. After the entry, he/she should first make the physical examination; the company will make the signature when the person has the qualified physical examination certificate, then he/she can have the employment registration at our office; afterward, he/she could deal with the residence permit. Such residence is legal.
During the Expo we will take the facilitated measures. First, no company in Shanghai would like to apply for the expatriate staff of the exhibition, so the business sector issued special registration and application methods for the participants of Expo. The participants could enter into China when they get the business registration certificate or license. In other words, the participants can enjoy the “treatment of multinational regional headquarters in Shanghai”; the foreigners do not need to deal with the employment permit first, while they transact with the employment permit and work permit together at one time, it can save the trouble for a round-trip transaction.
Secondly, we will centralize accepting for the concentrated demands and have the door-to-door services, also particularly strengthening on-line processing.

  1. I am wondering if you know how many foreigners are residing in Shanghai now? Particularly Singaporeans and Malaysians..

  2. limiting how many child a chinese couple can have to allow more foreigners into the countries. stay classy china…

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