China’s ‘international city’ still bars many of its foreign residents from returning Go back »

2020-08-06 | Shanghai

China’s ‘international city’ still bars many of its foreign residents from returning

In July 2020, the Shanghai Chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce surveyed its member companies to assess the difficulties they are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 143 members responded.

The survey found that 56 per cent of respondents still have foreign staff that cannot return to China. Of those that cannot return, 53 per cent say it is because the administrative requirements for obtaining a return visa are too high, and 48 per cent have had their visa applications or related approvals denied or indefinitely delayed. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are disproportionately affected by the entry restrictions, with 44 per cent unable to secure the return of any of their employees.

The impact of missing foreign staff is considerable. For those companies with employees stuck outside of China, 40 per cent face a decline in sales and 30 per cent face a decline in revenue. Economic incentives made available by the Shanghai authorities are out of reach or difficult to access for more than a quarter of respondents. Nearly half of respondents do not intend on deepening their investments in Shanghai over the next year.

Discrimination on the basis of foreign nationality or appearance has also been experienced by 39 per cent of respondents or their colleagues. More than half believe that xenophobia is being fuelled by reports from state media that portray the virus as 'imported'.

'Securing the return of foreign nationals to Shanghai is critical to restoring normality for our member companies, especially SMEs, as the absence of just one employee can seriously impede business operations,’ said Carlo D’Andrea, vice president and Shanghai chairman of the European Chamber. ‘Declining revenues and the lack of predictability, coupled with the increasingly unwelcoming atmosphere experienced by many, are beginning to pose a threat to the long-term viability of the Shanghai market for foreign investors.'

Download the survey report here.

For more information please contact

Yichi Zhang