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Shanghai to Attract Overseas Professionals
German and American professionals seeking a change of workplace will find that Shanghai is just the job, following the opening of two foreign offices to promote the city's business boom.

Civic leaders have unveiled plans to set up representative offices in German and the United States by the end of the year to attract specialists for the economic hub's development drive.

They have already taken the wraps off a new "green card" scheme for overseas professionals who have been working in Shanghai since July.

Now they hope offices in Germany and the United States will make the city an even more attractive place to work in, increasing its overseas professionalís pool.

Success would see the recruitment network being expanded to France, Japan, Canada and Australia next year.

"As Shanghai has already built itself into a hot location for domestic job-seekers, the ability to attract highly skilled workers from all over the world will be critical to its economic development," said Sun Luyi, director of Shanghai Personnel Bureau.

It is the first time that a Chinese city will have set up representative offices in foreign countries to attract well-trained staff.

Germany and the United States were chosen because of the quality of their employees. No decision has been taken on where the offices will be located in the two countries.

Sun said the move marked the beginning of efforts by Shanghai to search for professionals globally. The city will eventually turn itself into an international human resource base by 2015, he added.

Statistics show that more than 27,000 returned overseas Chinese, or 20 per cent of the total, have chosen Shanghai to develop their career.

They have started more than 1,700 ventures in the city, with investment exceeding US$300 million.

However, foreign residents comprise just 0.46 per cent of the total population in Shanghai, compared with 7.1 per cent in Hong Kong and 16.7 per cent in New York.

Experts also point out that a more crucial issue is the quality of the people taking up work in the city.

Compared with 45,000 foreign professionals, the number of poorly educated domestic migrant workers is recorded at 3.87 million, which exerts a negative impact on the city's cultural development, said Qu Shijing, a professor with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

"In terms of population structure, Shanghai still has a long way to go to be a truly international metropolis," he said.

The current structure hampers Shanghai from realizing its ambition of becoming an international economic, finance, trade and shipping centre.

Shanghai has just 63,100 financial specialists. And only 1.6 per cent of city professionals are working in the micro electronics, automobile, steel and chemistry industries - the city's four pillar sectors.

"Introducing foreign brains is a short-cut to accelerate the development of these industries," Sun said.

Experts also maintained that a strong cultural environment is a major asset in attracting such a work force - both Chinese and international - as well as investment in knowledge-based industries.

Shirley Young, senior adviser at General Motors, said: "For Shanghai to be a great international city at this stage of dynamic growth, it must integrate cultural development as a key priority into all its development plans.

"Only then can we expect people, when speaking of the world's great cities, to mention it in the same breath as New York, London and Paris."

(China Daily September 17, 2002)

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