Trade & Investment

An overview of expat demographics in China

Updated: 2015-01-12
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With its unique culture, vast geographic size, and fast-growing economy, China has long held a special appeal for foreign visitors. For more than twenty years, the last of these reasons has drawn a wave of foreign job seekers to China to start or continue their careers. Being a foreign employee in China, however, is not always smooth nor easy, especially considering the country’s fast-changing markets and regulatory system. Here we provide a quick sketch of China’s expat demographics.

Overview of expats working in China
There can be no doubt that in recent years, China’s expatriate make-up has been changing. With the country’s domestic work force steadily maturing, managerial positions are increasingly being taken on by Chinese talent, often with foreign degrees in hand and without the cultural disconnect of previous generations. The role of expats is changing as well. Where multinationals once came to China mostly for manufacturing and exporting, they are now increasingly here to access the Chinese consumer market, and are shifting their focus to logistics, warehousing and distribution accordingly.

The overall number of expats working in China has increased dramatically since the launch of “reform and opening-up” (in 1978). According to China’s most recent National Census held in 2010 – the first to record the number of foreigners residing in China – there are at least 600,000 expats working or living in cities throughout the country, broken down by nationality in the chart below. 

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Comments Area ( Total Comments: 4 )
gabrielxiamen commented on 27 Jan 2015
They might be 10 foreigners for each foreigner that has working visa.
superskelem commented on 19 Jan 2015
And dot include Taiwan as part of the PRS. It si an independent country.
cap212 commented on 13 Jan 2015
And seeing this numbers are from 2010, i'd be interested how it look like now? Since 5 years are like half an eternity in China.
cap212 commented on 13 Jan 2015
Where are all the 63'000 foreign nationals in Fujian? And where are they from? Maybe WOX can get some information about foreign nationals in Xiamen and Fujian. I think this would be interesting. Thanks!