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China career boost can come with health risks for expats

18 Comments
By LOUISE WATT

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18 Comments
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I don't care how much a company would pay me, I wouldn't work in China. My family's health is more important than a pay check.

But come to think of it, half of China's pollution seems to blow over to Japan, so maybe there isn't much difference.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've never been to China, so I can't really compare that to Japan's air quality, but I would have to say that Japan isn't very good either. The air quality does get pretty bad here when the winds blow from China.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I had heard before moving to Tokyo that pollution was bad here, but I never felt it unless you walk along a big road. It is a pretty good city to live regarding air quality. I would never subject my lungs to that torture and would rather sell hot dogs on the beach somewhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article is totally exaggerated. Expats don't work at the coal mine, nor even all the day standing in street selling gyoza. They are in their air-conditioned air filtered buildings most of the time, offices, expat flats and they can commute by taxi and don't have to ride bicycle behind trucks. They are more spared than 99% of Chinese people. So maybe if they live there 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, that accumulates, but the expat on a 3 yr stint ? Cry me a river... Probably the same persons that canceled short business trips to Tokyo a whole year after 3.11 claiming they were going to be irradiated.

half of China's pollution seems to blow over to Japan, so maybe there isn't much difference.

It's terrible in industrial zones (where no expats are ever stationed), they have the fog as we knew it in European coal and iron towns up to the late 70's. In the major cities, it's a little worse than here (I found). Only a minority of people that already arrive with a condition can be in the case " six-week assignment in Beijing ended with.... her lung function at about 30 percent".

living in the States ...than going to Beijing and Shanghai

I'm sure that their second house in the US on the beach or in the mountain has so clean air... but they arrive from filthy New-York to complain about Beijing ?

Carl Hopkins, Asia managing partner of legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, said Chinese nationals who had studied abroad at top universities or business schools were reluctant to return unless they had elderly family to take care of.

BS. Whenever they are proposed good jobs in China, they are very happy to go back.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Not just the air pollution. Food chain is also pretty ropey. And many local products do not come up to safety standards we are used to in Japan. and that is apart from the frequent rudeness and outright racism of many mainlanders.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They are in their air-conditioned air filtered buildings most of the time, offices, expat flats and they can commute by taxi and don't have to ride bicycle behind trucks. They are more spared than 99% of Chinese people.

Yeah, but what about their kids? Or do kids have to stay inside all day too?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yeah, but what about their kids?

Not all expats have small kids living with them. And they are not sent like the military. If their health or their family requires it, they can refuse expat positions, even change of job, there is no lack of candidates to replace them.

Or do kids have to stay inside all day too?

They wouldn't anyway ? My sister is not an expat, she has that problem with her toddlers in Paris (middle of birch season there now, it's like sugi in Japan). How do people manage with kids in Tokyo ? New-York ? London ?

Food chain is also

Also optional when you can pay and travel often. I've met people, they had their pantry full-stocked of imported food like an US army base.

the frequent rudeness and outright racism of many mainlanders.

Not exactly... but people are definitely different in mentality and lifestyles, the regime is special and that's surely the hardest for expats.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

One million Chinese are dying every year from air pollution. 16 out of 20 of the world's most polluted cites are in China.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

But come to think of it, half of China's pollution seems to blow over to Japan, so maybe there isn't much difference.

There's a huge difference. Hong Kong - not by a long shot the worst major Chinese city for air pollution - sees smog return to chronic levels every October or thereabouts, and from then to April or May, clear days are few and far between. The other months aren't necessarily great either, and it causes a serious degradation in the quality of life in a city that otherwise has quite a lot to offer. I've seen nowhere in Japan that has pollution on that level, and once you head into China proper, it's even worse than Hong Kong.

2 ( +1 / -0 )

Some comments sound more ideological rather than scientific. What the pollution has to do with the political system other than poor planning and environmental management. Some comments are well intended but they become polluted with ideological slant

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Besides the apparent pollution( I mean the Beijing airport gave me flashbacks of Cloud City in Star Wars), quality of life is not great. I don't make too much money now (in Texas), but if someone offered me a $100,000+ year job in Beijing, I would still turn it down. A couple years back I went to Beijing to look up on some job interviews offered to me. I had a 60 day tourist VISA, but 30 days is all I could stand of Beijing, I was totally disappointed with the place. I was shocked, I've been able to stay/visit over 20 major cities in Asia and Beijing ranks up there as the worst, or actually it ties with Manila on my list. I can't speak for the rest of China, but I don't think it could possibly be much more liveable elsewhere over there. I can easily see why many Chinese college students I meet here in USA are reluctant to go back to PRC to live. I guess one good thing about being in Beijing is that you'll never worry about getting a sunburn, pollution is too thick lol.

P.S. In Beijing I did do a homestay with a nice Chinese family, that I still keep in contact with often. So I wasn't totally on my own there, but I can remember hearing, almost daily, my host family saying "Damn Chinese government."

3 ( +2 / -0 )

I have been going to Shanghai since 1989, and lived there for 7 years. Believe me when I say that the air pollution is not so bad, it's the contamination of the food supply that is the main problem. There are so many cases of contamination and also deliberate cases ( usually to enhance profitability ). We left in 2005 after my wife and child were poisoned by the Plaster of paris found in the carton of milk. Shanghai I found, was comparable to most large cities, including Tokyo before they brought in the Diesel engine regulations in approx the year 2000. All of my chinese in laws have visited us in Japan and the Uk , and the first thing they comment on ,is how clean everything is ! . Also ,the quality of the food.

0 ( +0 / -1 )

Also , my son spent 6 weeks in Beijing on an internship, he said it was absolutely disgusting having to breathe outside His comment was " it's like sitting in a car with 5 chain smokers "

2 ( +1 / -0 )

@ mama humane Ultimately it does come back to the government, as most of the worst culprits are government owned industries who don't follow the regulations in regards to pollution. Profitability at any cost. England was the same in the 1900 s and other countries have been thru this as well. The problem is the government does try hard , but like an octopus , the number 4 tentacle doesn't know what the number 8 tentacle is up to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Excellent points. You do run a real risk living in Mainland China . Be warned, it's still a third world country, food safety, basic sanitary conditions still a work in progress. You may find some real life changing experiences, not all good.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pollution is just part of the risk. There is always the risk of contaminated water or food, especially if you are unlucky enough to drink counterfeit "mineral" water. There is the risk of crime, it can be dangerous doing business unless you are backed by a large company. And then there's the considerable risk of dying in a traffic accident - they all drive like they learned from watching Mad Max. Oh, and then there's the constant all day/all night drinking, smoking and carousing binges that go hand in hand with business in China. I remember reading that Chinese peasants have much longer life expectancy than a typical successful Chinese businessman. Not surprised.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

****right approach of any prudent employee at any level, as there is a saying in tamil language...suvar irundalthan chitram varialam' that means if the wall is there then only you can draw pictures, that means if your body is healthy then only any drawings can be drawn meaning any useful strategic meaningful things could get done!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've lived in China for about 6 years . The pollution can get pretty bad, but there are an abundance of nice areas to visit/live in if you want to get away from it all. I personally would never live in Beijing. I lived in Tianjin for a while (a much nicer city) and I could visit Beijing on the weekends if I wanted to. That was enough for me. I think the key to living an exciting life in China is to stay way from the expat bars, learn Chinese and go explore (some of the landscapes are simply amazing). Learning Chinese was especially important-China became so much more interesting once you could freely communicate.

That being said, I'll be leaving China at the end of the year to go to Med school. I won't lie and say I'm not looking forward to a nice sea breeze and fresh, clean, Florida air. I came down with acute bronchitis just last week and the doctor said my lungs look like I had been smoking. Welp--time to exercise that tar off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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