Expats in China: Three-Quarters Male and Illiterate
If you've been thinking lately that Beijing's expat scene is a complete sausage fest dominated by foreigners who can barely speak Chinese, you're right: A comprehensive study of the foreign population in China released last week shows that 74 percent of the expatriate population are dudes and three out of four "understood only simple words in Chinese."
In a poll designed to figure out how to attract and retain foreign talent, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs discovered that 73.8 percent were male, and only a shockingly low 8 percent report that they could speak at least simple Chinese.
Egads you neanderthals!
Despite the lack of foreign women, and the men's generally poor language skills, it seems most expats like it here anyhow: 70 percent report being happy with their lives in China, and only 3.3 percent want to leave as soon as their contracts are up. Another 17 percent said they were dissatisfied but wished to continue working in China.
The study, portions of which were released last Friday, reported that a reduction in bureaucratic work visa processes and better compensation are the two top items on the foreigners' agenda for making China a more appealing place to work. The full report will be released on Wednesday (stay tuned to thebeijinger blog for more details later).
As a general sub-culture in China, expats could fare better in the language department: Considering foreign employees primarily work white-collar jobs, it seems almost shocking that nearly three-quarters can't talk easily with local counterparts in their native tongue. Then again, maybe this can be chalked up to the high standard of English that many Chinese speak, particularly in the major metro areas, which allows expats to get by without Chinese skills.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg manages to learn the language in his spare time while running a billion-dollar company, and he doesn't even live here.
The poll indicated that the foreign population in China comes from North America (34 percent), Europe (28 percent), Asia (21 percent) and everywhere else (17 percent).
Photo: The Beijinger (archive)