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Two Chinese Cities Offer Incentives to Attract Overseas Professionals

  • Kari Jensen

The global financial crisis has pushed millions of people around the world out of work. But in China, some cities are offering incentives to attract both overseas Chinese and foreign talent to fill high-level jobs.

Guangzhou in southern China is offering cash incentives to mid- and upper-level professionals overseas to get them to move there.

And Shanghai recently announced it would offer tax incentives to overseas professionals who agree to work at financial institutions in the city.

Both Guangzhou and Shanghai want to attract overseas Chinese as well as foreigners. Guangzhou recently held a job fair for overseas Chinese, while Shanghai, which hopes to lure laid-off financial industry workers, has recruited overseas Chinese at job fairs in London, Chicago and New York.

Harley Seyedin is president of the South China American Chamber of Commerce in Guangzhou. He says the nearby city of Shenzhen also has an incentive program.

"Because there's tremendous demand for talent all over China. And Guangzhou certainly needs to get its share of that talent as it begins to move up the higher value-added chain of manufacturing and production," said Seyedin.

Guangzhou has a $30 million fund to attract top talent in the manufacturing, technology, trade and finance sectors. It will give cash awards of up to $146,000 to those who move there - the amount recently was increased to compete with other cities.

As China's economy boomed over the past three decades, the country struggled to find experienced managers and professionals. Even though thousands of Chinese factory workers have lost their jobs recently, demand for professionals remains strong, as the country works to recast itself as a developed industrial economy, instead of just being a manufacturing center.

China's economy is slowing, but unlike countries in recession, such as the United States, it is still growing. Companies needing highly skilled staff are hoping to recruit jobless professionals from Western countries.

However, incentives alone may not be enough to entice overseas professionals to work in China.

The country's salaries, on average, are lower than those of industrialized nations. The quality of life is not as high.

Overseas Chinese who are used to high salaries, big bonuses and a Western lifestyle may think twice before coming back.

Still, the financial crisis may force some to take jobs they would not consider taking otherwise.

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