By Daniel Hunter

Career advancement, greater affluence coupled with an exciting culture makes China an attractive destination for British expats according to the fifth annual NatWest International Personal Banking (NatWest IPB) Quality of Life Index.

The global NatWest IPB Quality of Life report, in conjunction with the Centre of Future Studies, reveals that despite major cultural differences, almost two thirds (63%) of British expats believe China to be a ‘foreigner friendly’ country. While language barriers might traditionally create feelings of alienation, the Chinese are largely deemed as being welcoming and open to expats.

British expats in China

The report reveals the majority of British expats living in China are on work assignments (63%). Almost four in ten (37%) are teaching English in schools and universities. Of those working and living in China, 35% view their decision to relocate in positive terms and are happy they made the jump. When it comes to living the dream, almost seven in ten expats (69%) like the career advancement China offers them and the affluence they have achieved through increased earnings, with 86% enjoying higher salaries.

Expats moving to China over the past decade can be segmented into three categories. The first are those sent to China by major multinational companies, the second are those who moved to China to study and the third segment are those who chose to focus on teaching English.

“The emergence of China as a world trade crusader certainly seems to have enticed British expats in search of their fortune," Dave Isley, Head of NatWest International Personal Banking, commented.

"With a wealth of career opportunities and high salaries, China seems to be a magnet to British expats. Our report shows that almost two thirds of expats believe China to be ‘foreigner friendly’ which is so vital when living abroad. Whilst expats will, of course, attempt to blend into new communities, a warm welcome helps the process tenfold.”

When it comes to dislikes, 63% of British expats state overcrowding as a problem, while 72% it’s the pollution which causes them concern. Restricted internet access and the Chinese media are also cited as dislike factors. The major hurdles they face are focused on language difficulties, with 96% stating this as an issue and 87% believing cultural differences are a challenge.

Chinese talent squeeze

The NatWest IPB Quality of Life report reveals teaching accounts for over a third (37%) of British expats occupation in China. With an increasing number of major international players looking to further expand their market presence in China, the banking and financial services sectors of China are also experiencing a talent squeeze.

What was once a very conservative (communist/socialist) country is now becoming a world trade crusader, expected to soon replace Germany as the world trade leader, particularly in the area of exports. Today many higher level jobs with major companies are filled by employees from the home country. However, with the impact of the financial crisis, many smaller companies are keen to save money by recruiting talented foreign staff who are already in China and are acclimatised to life in the Middle Kingdom.

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