China’s zero-Covid-19 policies might be over since December, visas might be available and the new government tries to restore business confidence, but the number of expats in Shanghai is still dropping, according to the latest update by Bloomberg. While earlier estimates by chambers of commerce in big cities of 50% of the expats leaving are not confirmed and might have been too high, Shanghai still sees an ongoing exodus, while replacements for expat positions are not yet coming in.
China officially ended Covid Zero late last year. But for many foreigners, the experience of being confined to their homes, constantly tested and facing food shortages has irrevocably changed their view of living in Shanghai.
About 25% of Germans living in the city left after the lockdown, while the number of French and Italian citizens registered with their governments each fell by 20%, according to a report by the Shanghai chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China…
Expats are still in high demand, particularly in sectors like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, according to Jing Yan, a Shanghai-based senior consultant at Kilpatrick who recruits top executives for the China offices of Fortune 500 companies.
“International professionals still want to have the opportunity to work in China,” she said. “They are eager to get involved with one of the biggest economies in the world, with a scale that no other country can compare to.”
Still, foreigners haven’t returned yet, if the real estate market is a guide. Apartments in compounds most popular with expats are being discounted by as much as 15%, said Shanghai realtor Frank Wu…
“Businesses are concerned that the Shanghai government may take similar drastic actions again with little warning,” said Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, chair of the city’s chapter of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, who finished quarantine only to immediately enter lockdown. “This underlines the new reality we are facing, or maybe we ignored before — ideology trumps the economy.”