Morita Lee, a senior Japanese engineer who has just been in Shanghai for three months, is one of more than 36,000 foreigners now working in the booming city.
He has taken up his new management position in Olympus' Shanghai branch.
The foreign employees come from 102 countries, mostly from Japan, the USA and South Korea.
The number of non-Chinese working in the city has been rising over the past five years, says the Shanghai Administrative Center for Employment of Foreigners (SACEF) under the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau (SLSS).
SACEF director Sun Hande said there are more in Shanghai than any other major cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
That's because Shanghai, as the country's economic center, offers more vacancies requiring a high professional level, he said.
The director estimated that the number of new foreign workers will increase by 38 percent in 2004 and is expected to grow even faster next year.
Data from the bureau shows that 85 percent of foreigners work in foreign-funded companies or are representative agents of foreign firms.
Sun said only 13.9 percent of them work in domestic companies.
"More than 70 percent of these foreigners are taking up management positions, and another 15 percent are engineers or senior engineers," Sun said
"The city now has at least 3,600 foreign general managers."
Official figures also show that more than 90 percent of them have university or post-graduate degrees.
They seem to feel the city has many opportunities for them to develop their careers.
Nattavij Tevahudee, a Thai architect at the Shanghai branch of FRI Architecture, a France-based architecture design company, said working in Shanghai was extremely exciting.
"As far as the architecture business is concerned, China is really growing more rapidly when compared with my home country Thailand and France, where I got my master's degree," said Tevahudee.
He said Shanghai was the fastest-growing place in China and many more construction projects had been launched in the public sector and in the commercial and residential sectors.
"Working in the city, I get more chances to improve my professionalism through a succession of projects I am engaged in," Tevahudee said.
Apart from more chances to practise professional skills, these non-Chinese feel they also have a better chance of getting promoted.
John Mampilly, the chief representative of Wipro Limited, a well-known Indian Information Technology consultancy, said the prosperous IT sector meant some of his compatriots working in the cities had won easy promotions to management.
Mampilly said that as the IT sector is still a burgeoning industry in Shanghai, there are more business opportunities but less competition. Overseas professionals can more easily develop their businesses, improve their work performance and find recognition for the work they do.
Most of those in Shanghai also hold that the city offers a good living environment.
"Shanghai's infrastructure is good and public transport is very convenient," said Tevahudee.
Mampilly did mention some downsides - like the rush hour traffic congestion, and that although the Shanghainese were very friendly to work with they did not offer much in the way of social life for outsiders.
He said some Indian families working here had experienced difficulties in finding schools for their children.
Guangdong needs overseas talents
South China's Guangdong Province is planning to attract residents from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to work in its government departments, bureaus, organizations and State-owned enterprises.
The city needs professionals and experts to boost its fast and sustainable economic growth.
The province The move aims to raise the province's work efficiency and try to keep the government operation in line with international practice.
Guangdong will also seek to expand its civil servants' exchanges with neighboring Hong Kong and Macao, according to an official from Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Personnel.
Every year, more than 93,000 Hong Kong residents arrive in Guangdong to seek job opportunities, said He Jinsheng, an official from the provincial personnel bureau.
The province is now competing with Beijing and Shanghai to attract overseas professionals.
In October, Guangdong officially introduced a "green card" system to help woo offshore personnel as well as investors from outside the mainland.
Compared with other major metropolises and regions in the mainland, Guangdong has even more preferential policies, He said.
The prosperous province, one of China's economic powerhouses, expects to be able to attract more top professionals in marketing, enterprise management, logistics, tourism, biological engineering, automobiles, electronics, foreign trade, information technology, petrochemicals and finance industries in the years ahead.
The Guangdong Provincial Regulations on Attracting Professionals from Overseas says all overseas personnel who have been granted a green card in Guangdong Province enjoy the same privileges as locals apart from the right to vote and stand for election,
These include medical treatment, social welfare, housing, children's education, house purchase and cars and applying for a driver's licence.
In previous years, only local residents who have 'hukou,' or household registration, in the province, could enjoy these privileges.
Based on Guangdong's good living and working environment and the geographical position,
He believes Guangdong, especially the prosperous cities in the Pearl River Delta, will become a prime destination for overseas professionals, including compatriots from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.
As well as foreign-funded companies and joint ventures, State-owned enterprises, universities and colleges, financial institutions and companies are also showing an interest in recruiting professionals from abroad.
Guangzhou-based Jinan University has just decided to conduct a worldwide search for 10 presidents for its colleges and schools early this year.
In August, three Hong Kong University graduates were recruited by the Guangzhou Metro Corporation.
More than 350,000 overseas personnel, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, are now working in Guangdong Province.
More than 80 percent of them are living in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan and Huizhou in the prosperous Pearl River Delta.
In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, alone, there are more than 100,000 overseas personnel.
Lin Yuanhe, vice-mayor of Guangzhou, has attributed the city's growing number of overseas professionals to the good living and working environment in the southern metropolis.
(China Daily December 25, 2004)