Working in Beijing



Expatriates moving to China will always find Beijing to be the city of choice.

General Outlook 

Cheap labor in the country has led to the influx of local and Western companies in the capital city, which has inevitably turned into a vast job market in Beijing. Indeed, as one arrives in Beijing, one finds there is much to look forward to.

Work Visa and other Requirements

Foreigners who plan to work in Beijing need to find an employer first before applying for a Work Visa, otherwise known as the Z visa. A passport with a fifteen-month validity beyond one's stay in the city and that which has at least one unused page will also be required. Those seeking a non-teaching position will have to submit, together with the visa application form, a document from the prospective employer proving that the applicant, indeed, has work waiting for him in the particular company. Those who will be working as teachers have to provide the same document plus a Foreign Experts Work Permit to be applied for by the applicant at the China State Administration of foreign Expert Affairs upon the request of the future employer. Also, to be submitted is an Official Invitation Notice for China Visa Application which indicates the details of the applicant's stay in the city, including validity of the visa and the period of allowed stay. Processing takes four to five days as long as all required information and documents have been submitted.

Business Etiquette 

In Beijing, people at work tend to dress formally and are rather conscious about wearing certain colors such as white, which is closely associated with funerals. They are also very punctual people and while they are generally cordial, locals never call each other by nicknames unless invited. Both hands are used in handing over a business card which should always have the printed side facing the receiver. When having a meeting, it is normal for business people to lay on the table the cards they receive - this helps everyone remember everyone. It is also deemed inappropriate to raise the issue of religion, sex, politics and arguments that are not favorable to China unless one is a family member or close friend.

Working Conditions

Fluency in both written and oral English is a must for anyone to work in a Beijing-based company, but expatriates with basic knowledge of Mandarin are at an advantage. The standard number of working hours in the city is 40 hours per five-day work week, a typical work day beginning at 9 in the morning and ending at 6pm. There are three national holidays which lead into a whole week off from work, namely the Chinese New Year, International Labor Day and National Day. Employment contracts for expatriates also depend on whether one got hired while already living in Beijing or anywhere in China or hired from overseas.

Salaries and Wages

The average annual salary of Beijing workers is 6,481 USD, with opportunities for earning at least about 30% more. The average monthly salary is 元 23,664. The actual amount involved in an expat's salary package will also have a lot to do with whether he was hired while already staying in Beijing or from overseas. Those hired locally tend to receive way lower salaries and fewer employment benefits than those who actually came from another country. Benefits can include standard bonuses, housing allowance, airfare, health and evacuation insurance and free training, among others. All employees who live and work in China for over six months a year will be taxed both on their local income, by 5-45%, and any other income received from any point in the world.

Jobs most in demand in Beijing include those in banking and finance, as well as advertising and communications, sales and marketing, Healthcare and Life and Sciences, Manufacturing and Industrial and, of course, Information Technology. The major job industries in Beijing include finance and insurance, agriculture and commerce industries.

At present, 85% international companies are driven by an expatriate workforce and the numbers are growing due to the increasingly attractive benefits offered to world professionals. Because of this, the expat population in Beijing and in all of China is expected to increase dramatically in the next few years as the country aims to exceed the US as the world's largest economy.



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