The Nanfang / Blog


Northern Smog Forcing Expats South to Cleaner Guangdong

Posted: 05/7/2014 12:11 pm

The air quality in the Pearl River Delta is very good, if not excellent. Due to rain, brisk air currents and anti-pollution measures, Shenzhen enjoyed 81 days that complied with air quality standards classified as good or fairly good in the first quarter of this year.

And what isn’t perfect can be fixed: While a joint report published by mainland and Hong Kong environmental departments has noted both improvements and setbacks in air quality throughout various districts of Foshan, Zhuhai has gone ahead and adopted the measure of restricting vehicle use on heavily polluted days.

Furthermore, the Guangdong cities of Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Huizhou and Zhongshan have all been named to a list of cities with the cleanest air in China. As a PRD resident, you likely know this, but you should know that everyone knows this, knowledge that may lead towards an oncoming trend.

While pollution has no direct benefits save the allegorical efforts to turn carbon particles from Beijing smog into diamonds, it remains that southern Chinese cities may stand to benefit from an exodus of highly-qualified expat workers fleeing the bad air quality of the north.

XKB reports that an unnamed study has said that 48% of foreign companies in China are dissatisfied with the state of pollution in 2014, compared with only 19% in 2010.  They then verify this report by two members of the Dragonfly HR recruitment company.

Philippe Comolet-Tirman, head of the Dragonfly Group offices in Beijing, does not draw a strong correlation between the effects of pollution upon employment recruitment at first:

“Chinese people aren’t that concerned with this problem, although I’ve noticed in the past few months that an increasing number of Chinese are wearing masks during smoggy days. But in the field of HR recruitment, there has been no influence. Compared to urban air quality, job applicants in China are more concerned with the type of company, salary, distance from work among other things.”

However, Comolet-Tirman does point out a recent trend:

“Those people (in Beijing) that have worked there for a number of years are now moving to Shanghai, Southern China, even to Europe.”

Fellow colleague Homeric De Sarth, the operating manager of Dragonfly in Shenzhen, verifies this trend:

“Southern China has done a great job in preserving the air quality. Although it’s not perfect, it’s still much better than it is up north. We have discovered that many people working in Beijing and Shanghai have moved down south.”

An exodus of Beijing expats was first reported upon this past January, so we’ll see if the trend of foreign workers in norther cities seeking the sunny climes of southern China continue.

Photo: Business Insider

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