Although China is a communist country, the opening up to private ownership and adoption of a capitalist model that began in the late 1970s has led to the unstoppable development of the Chinese economy, which is now the second largest economy in the world, behind the United States. However, its growth has slowed in recent years. Between 1978 and 2018, the Chinese economy made great progress and will soon become the first economy on the planet. It went from a GDP per capita of $150 to about $10,000. The unemployment rate is currently about 4%. But do not think it’s easy for a foreigner working in China.
To work in China, you must know Chinese, unless you are working in a multinational company (usually in Beijing or Shanghai), in which case English will suffice. Most expats in China work in foreign-owned companies. Otherwise, it is necessary to speak Chinese, as most people do not know English both in daily life and at work.
Chinese language skills, even at a basic level (HSK 2-3), will certainly not be enough to find work, but people will certainly appreciate you and you will fully enjoy your experience in this country.
Working in China visas
To work in China, you need a work visa (Z). The work visa is issued to those who have an employment contract with a company, including a foreign company that has a branch in China. The visa must be used within 3 months and only allows you to enter China once. Once you are in the country, you have one month to obtain a temporary work permit (for the duration of the employment contract) and the corresponding residence permit.
For more information on visas, see this article: How to move to China
For more information on work visas, you can contact the Chinese visa application center in your country.
Work in China the most demanded jobs
The most in-demand jobs in China right now are:
- Banking and Financial Services: The Chinese labor market offers many opportunities for specialists in the financial sector
- Engineering: due to the industrial development of the country, many types of engineers are needed: Civil, Electrical, Electronics, Mechanical, etc.
- Sales and marketing: due to the high export volume of Chinese products, there is a constant need for experts in international sales and marketing
- Internet technology: the technology sector is constantly looking for IT professionals
- Language teachers: mainly English teachers
Working in China job search
1 Linkedin as well as to look at job listings and try to build a network of professional connections. Connections are often used to find jobs in China, as many jobs are not posted on the Internet.
- Asiaxpat, vacancies in Hong Kong
- Echinajobs, job for foreigners in China, (in English)
- Newchinacareer, job vacancies (in English)
- Jobsdb, recruitment agency in Hong Kong
- Reed, job vacancies in China
- JobTube, International jobs opportunities in China
- Chinahr, (in Chinese)
- Michaelpage, job search in China
- 51job, job opening, (also in English)
- Thebeijinger, online newspaper in English, with job offers in Beijing
- Smartshanghai, online newspaper in English, with job ads in Shanghai
- Weechat, you can find job offers in different groups
For the recognition of qualifications, please visit the Enic-Naric website
Working in China
If you want to go to China and look for work, you should focus on the big cities like Beijing, where the main companies are based and many multinationals have their offices. Shanghai, the financial heart of the nation. Shenzhen and Guangzhou, export centers strategically located near Hong Kong. Even smaller cities with fewer foreigners can sometimes offer interesting opportunities.
Illegal work is common in China and there are also many foreigners working illegally on business visas or other types of visas, especially language teachers. There is virtually no democracy in China and the state is heavily controlled by the police. There are still rewards for spies, so those who work illegally must be extremely careful.
There are actually some jobs that can be done without a work visa, such as waiters in restaurants, football and rugby coaches, photo models (Westerners are in high demand as models, especially if they are blond and have clear eyes), temporary and only for a short time, but if you combine several of these jobs, you can finance your living.
The problem is that if you want to stay in China, you need a residence permit, which you can only get with a work visa or a study visa (attending a Chinese school). However, I have met several people who were able to stay in the country on a type F business (non-commercial) visa, leaving and re-entering the country every 2/3 months.
The only way to work legally is to obtain a work visa (Z). Remember that it is not possible to work in China even if you marry a Chinese citizen. The first step is to find a company that wants to hire you, and not all companies are eligible to apply for foreign workers.
You must have a college degree or other qualification and have at least two years of experience in your industry. The company must prove that the position cannot be filled by a Chinese person and submits the application to the Immigration Department, which evaluates how important your work is to the country’s growth and only after this evaluation decides whether or not to grant the visa.
Therefore, only qualified and experienced workers (excellent architects, engineers, foreign language teachers, foreign cuisine cooks, etc.) have a chance to obtain the visas. Applications for ‘normal’ jobs that can be performed by Chinese are hardly considered. However, there may be exceptions related to the company and province, as the rules are not exactly the same everywhere.
Work in China conclusion
So if the company can prove to the Chinese government that you are absolutely “indispensable” based on your work experience and studies and deserve a work permit, you must submit the following:
- medical certificate
- copy of your professional qualifications
- criminal record
- statement from a company certifying the last two years of work experience
If immigration gives its consent, you can apply for a work visa.
A final note on the new immigration policy of the Chinese government, which has announced new rules for work visas and residence permits to make it easier for foreigners to enter and stay in China. In some provinces, skilled workers will be granted a 10-year multiple entry visa. On the other hand, entrepreneurs who want to start an innovative business, especially in the field of IT and new technologies, will be provided with offices and financial resources to start the business. However, as you can see, these are always highly specialized professionals.
For those interested in starting a business in China, I would like to point out a useful guide