Foreign nationals quit China due to smog and layoffs

Foreign nationals quit China due to smog and layoffs

Staff Reporter


While heavy air pollution has invaded most of China’s provinces and prompted Beijing to take action to curb the incessant haze, it has boosted the business of relocation firms such as Santa Fe Relocations as many foreign workers are opting to leave the country because of the smog, reports Beijing’s Economic Weekly.

Sun Jiapu, a sales development manager at Santa Fe’s China branch, said his company has seen rising numbers of foreign nationals leave in the past couple of years on account of the wretched air quality, and business hit a new high last year.

Last year, smog was a common occurrence in 25 provinces across China and more than 100 mid- to large-sized cities, with average national hazy days reaching 29.9 days, the highest in 52 years. The phenomenon made it evident that after three decades of rapid economic development, China has to transform its development model and restructure its industries, the Beijing-based Securities Daily said in early January.

Before 2013, Santa Fe saw another peak in 2008 when multinational companies dispatched lots of managers and talent to China, which ranked the top in the world in terms of inflows of human resources. But since the second half of 2009, multinational companies have turned cautious in controlling HR costs, Sun said.

Among Santa Fe’s 120 global branches, its China unit ranked the top in revenue in 2013. Santa Fe received 100,000 orders to help clients relocate, with China accounting for the biggest slice of the pie, indicating that a growing number of foreign workers are choosing to leave China, Sun said.

Since late 2012, the term “airpocalypse” has been used to describe the serious air pollution problem in China’s major cities, especially Beijing, leading many foreign nationals to consider leaving the country.

Many have no choice but to stay, however. A German national working as a partner at a Beijing consulting firm offering law and accounting services, said that for the moment he will stay in China as his wife is Chinese and his business is in Beijing. He added that once he and his wife have children, they will move to Europe.

In order to address the concerns of those posted to China, the US embassy has ordered thousands of air purifiers for the families of their American employees.

In the first half of 2013, fewer than 13 million foreign nationals came to China for business and tours, down 5% from the same period a year earlier, mostly due to air pollution concerns, the Economic Weekly said.

Meanwhile, a rise in global layoffs, including those by multinational companies in China, is the other reason why there are foreign nationals leaving the nation, the paper added.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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