Living in China: Shanghai holds the highest population of foreigners
Shanghai has the largest population of foreign nationals among all domestic cities and provinces in China, with about 143,200 expat residents living in the city, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau announced recently. Nearly one in every four foreign residents in the country lives in Shanghai, according to the sixth national census conducted in November 2010.
Shanghai is home to a total of 208,300 overseas residents, which adds people from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to the foreign nationals population. That is second only to Guangdong Province. The overseas population accounts for nearly 1 percent of the city’s total residents – 23.02 million people. Last year marked the first time that China included overseas residents in the national census. “More and more overseas residents are attracted to move to Shanghai, an international economic hub, since the economic crisis in 2008,” said Ren Yuan, professor at Fudan University’s School of Social Development and Public Policy. He said overseas residents accounted for only about 0.56 percent of the city’s population 10 years ago, according to one of his studies.
Pudong New Area, Changning District and Minhang District have the greatest number of overseas residents living in international communities, according to the bureau. The top three home countries of foreign residents in Shanghai are Japan, the United States and South Korea, as most foreign residents come from developed countries, not developing nations. More than 60 percent of expats in Shanghai are engaged in jobs which demand great skills or managerial experience, according to the census. “The city sees few labor immigrants from overseas as domestic migrant workers fill the vacancies in the labor-intensive industries,” Ren said. “The overseas residents and migrant workers make up for the structural labor shortage of the city,” he added.
With more foreign people coming to the city, cross-border marriages are increasing. About one fifth of the 110,000 overseas households are based on cross-border marriages, in which one spouse is not from Chinese mainland. Meanwhile, more than half of the overseas households are single-person households. Most overseas residents are young or middle-aged people, and the average age of the overseas resident is 33. More than 50 percent of overseas people come to the city to work or do business while about 20 percent come to study. The rest visit relatives, immigrate to the city or come for other purposes