Sustained fast economic growth in Shanghai is drawing more and more foreigners to work in this leading industrial and commercial metropolis.
Currently in Shanghai, nearly 33,000 foreigners work in social services, manufacturing, real estate, construction or at Sino-foreign joint ventures and branches of foreign businesses, according to the latest statistics provided by the Shanghai Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau.
The registered number of foreigners working in Shanghai has been rapidly rising in recent years. The 2002 figure rose 51.1 percent over that for 2001, and the 2003 figure rose by 28.6 percent. By the end of September, a total of 11,277 foreigners registered to work in Shanghai, exceeding the total number registered last year.
According to Shanghai's taxation authorities, personal income taxes paid by foreigners reached 1.6 billion yuan (193 million US dollars) in the first half of the year, a year on year rise of 37.9 percent and accounting for 14.28 percent of Shanghai's total individual income taxes.
Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, France, Australia and Britain are the top 10 countries of origin. Of them, Japan accounts for 33.7, and United States citizens make up 11.5 percent and Republic of Korea citizens account for 8.7 percent.
Many of these foreigners have higher educational background. Nearly 90 percent have college education or more, and 2.5 percent are post-graduates or postdoctoral.
Besides economic circles, an increasing number of foreigners have merged themselves into the social and even "political" life in Shanghai as China opens itself wider in various sectors.
Two foreigners, Jason Boonham, a bank executive from Australia,and Lilian Loo, a Singaporean housewife, have been selected as "officials" for their neighborhood committee in Yanlord Garden, a rising international community in Shanghai.
Approximately 500,000 members nationwide of some 115,000 neighborhood committees, which is a sort of grassroots self-government management and service organization for urban residents around China, have been affectionately referred by former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji as "community premiers."
Officials from consulates of six countries and representatives from a dozen foreign enterprises in Shanghai were invited to attend the annual meeting of
Shanghai's industrial and commercial bureau early this year. The move demonstrating the municipal government's determination foster transparency.
These foreigners were the first group to attend the "interior meeting" of a local government of China.