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Growing Globally – What Are China’s Mobility Challenges?

President Xi Jinping’s historic opening address to the World Economic Forum’s annual conference spoke of China’s ongoing quest for equitable growth in a new era.

What could this mean for mobility in China?

President Xi Jinping delivered his speech at the end of January to the high-profile annual gathering of international social, political and business leaders in a snowy Davos, Switzerland. He sent a clear and reassuring message: China is very much open for business at a time of real global change.

Inclusive growth

Talking of an “open door” for people and businesses that share China’s goals of mutual, interconnected growth and opportunity, President Xi Jinping described China’s journey to the world’s second largest economy.

He addressed delegates on the value of gradual reforms appropriate to the People’s Republic’s own path, ensuring China’s approach to economic globalization works for everyone and for mutual benefit.

From a mobility perspective, this people-first approach is reflected in the State Administration of Foreign Experts’ Affairs announcement last year. It is introducing a more streamlined visa system and a skills database for high-end foreign experts.

The new scheme is designed to make it easier for Chinese companies to fill talent gaps and to create a “friendlier environment” for overseas experts. Both aspects are vital as China seeks to re-gear its growth engine by developing world-leading science and technology sectors.

Innovating solutions

The changes are also supporting China’s unique brand of economic globalization as it gains momentum. The Belt & Road initiative is already extending significant investment across along transnational corridors connecting more than 40 countries across Asia, Africa and beyond.

China’s skilled workers now have unprecedented scope for outbound assignments. Domestically too, regional centres, second and third-tier cities, are fast-rising destinations thanks to increasing automation and investments.

Such diverse opportunities offer unique experiences and great prospects to assignees. However, for a combination of reasons – family responsibilities, culture and language, quality of life, administrative and buoyant labor markets – assignments are not always proving attractive to employees, despite the career and life enhancements they offer.

From an international perspective – in common with countries where legislation, languages and cultures are at first sight very different – inbound assignments to China can also be daunting for potential assignees and their families.

People first and gradual reform

While gradual reforms to visas and immigration are helping to better balance talent demand and supply, companies still face challenges in getting people to go on assignment. This means designing, refining and managing moves for assignees in more appropriate and appealing ways.

Here, the “people first for mutual benefit” message resonates. At Sterling, we have over 25 years’ experience managing moves around the globe. We appreciate the importance of listening to people, understanding their needs, then delivering our services in harmony with a company’s objectives.

It takes gradual shifts to change attitudes and deliver packages that get people moving. For companies supporting China’s economic growth as it goes global, we believe more, and more tailored, mobility is the way ahead.

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