With new waves of economic growth and globalization, a swelling number of foreigners have embarked on a journey to China in search of new opportunities.
Some are professionals choosing to work in the world’s fastest growing economy…
While others are simply itching to gain some experience from a cross-cultural environment and learn how to successfully integrate into it…
But, transferring your professional expertise to China and working there is not a walk in the park.
A wide array of challenges come with working in most any area of the world - America, China, India. Just because you move to a different part of the globe does not mean the challenges subside…
Rather, they just change with the change of scenery. And in many cases, they grow.
Benefits of Working in China
You are probably asking yourself, “Why would someone want to work in China?” As an outsider, you might not have much insight into the market that awaits just around the bend.
Asia is the leading destination in the world for high-achieving and ambitious expats, with areas like China specifically leading the pack. With the attractive lifestyle and extensive range of business perks, it easily attracts expats from all industries.
A few of the major reasons various expats choose to work in China include:
- The money, of course.
The first thing anyone considering a new environment inquires about is the income. In 2014, HSBC Bank International Limited issued their 2014 Expat Explorer report which ranked China first on their Expat Economics league table.
- The cost of living.
Aside from how much money you can make, how much will it cost you to live there?
Not much according to the same report from the HSBC Bank International Limited. It ranked China fourth on the table, translating into China being very affordable for services and goods.
However, this bullet point comes with a big caveat: for families especially, China isn’t cheap. Costs continue to go up every year, especially for big ticket items like International Schools. While it remains relatively inexpensive for single 20 somethings, don’t expect that China will automatically be cheap.
- The professional opportunities are calling your name.
Your finances are highly likely to become much more complex when you move abroad.
The additional options that present themselves in addition to the higher salaries – thanks to a better cost of living – open up a sea of professional opportunities.
However, all these benefits are not to say that China does not come with its own array of challenges as well…
Challenges of Working in China
The benefits might sound tempting at first, but always consider that with the advantages also come the disadvantages. Once you decide to take on a new locale, the challenges become even more prevalent and fiercer.
You are no longer tackling the challenges that were once obvious and familiar to you.
In this array of challenges come those that are large and small – some are specific to each business, while others apply to the Chinese economy as a whole.
For some small businesses, logistics can present itself as a constant hurdle to jump over. Shipping products quickly and ensuring their safe arrival can present several problems – one major problem being unhappy customers.
Another challenge of working in China faced by most any foreigner is the difference in culture. The way things are handled in western society greatly differs from how China does things…
According to Bastien Dumont of InternshipsChina,
"After 7 years studying the language, culture and business environment in China I must say the hardest part for me will always be figuring out Chinese administration. With mobile payments and logistics, China has proven to be far more advanced than Europe and America. However, when it comes to corporate administration we sometimes feel like we are taking a trip 20 years back.”
Another example: Americans tend to have the correctional tactic of directness – when someone messes up in a company, the problem is presented to them and they are often questioned as to why they handled it that way.
However, in China, they don’t handle issues with such directness, but rather do it in a more discrete manner as a way to “save face.”
If someone were to make a mistake, it should be presented to the staff member from the point of view that the one in charge – or the one addressing the mistake – has made the mistake.
Will China’s slowing economy be able to keep up with its growth targets?
The elephant in the room, so to speak, is can China keep up with its growth target? As the economy begins to slow, this question arises as a major issue. The country has recently held steady growth, but the economy is beginning to slow.
The rising interest rate of the US Federal Reserve’s has forced China to reintroduce capital outflow restrictions as a method of defending the yuan.
As a result, the government must now tighten controls on liquidity to prevent the financial risks moving up its agenda.
With rising issues in power, economy, and the issues posed by their increasingly polluted environmental position, several challenges arise when working in China.
As the country continues to face issues with its slowing economy, the challenges will only continue to grow.
For most entrepreneurs and professionals, it is all a matter of weighing the pros and the cons.
Do the benefits outweigh the challenges?
Michael Michelini is host of the GlobalFromAsia.com podcast, an online radio show to help business owners grow their companies in Asia and around the world.
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