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August 31, 2010

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City aims to lure more expertise

To lure and cultivate more high-end professionals in the next decade, Shanghai has issued a new set of guidelines aiming to beef up services, possibly offer subsidies and other inducements, and improve living amenities.

But professionals and industry experts told Shanghai Daily that high tax rates, a rising cost of living and a lack of a mature medical system for outsiders may reduce the city's attraction for professionals from the rest of China and abroad.

Under the guidelines, Shanghai plans to attract 2,000 overseas high-level professionals in the next five to 10 years to bolster the development of key industries such as the shipping, trade and finance. The number of overseas experts in Shanghai would then reach 210,000.

Between 20 to 30 innovation bases for overseas professionals will be built near universities, research centers and enterprises.

Earlier this month, the government in Pudong New Area - the focal point for trial policies in attracting outside talent - told Shanghai Daily it plans to encourage employers to buy health insurance for expatriate workers to improve their health care.

Over the next five years, Pudong plans to offer Chinese green cards to 100 foreign professionals and to build and operate low-rent apartments for professionals.

According to the guidelines, low-rent apartments for high-end professionals will be built in Puxi as well as Pudong.

More preferential policies are needed to attract and keep expats in Shanghai for a long term, industry experts said.

"Foreigners who are introduced to the city as high-end talents do not enjoy any preference in personal income taxes, and they can only have the most basic social insurances at the moment, while foreign expats in the United States are better insured," said Zhou Bo, a manager with the CIIC Shanghai Foreign Enterprises Service Company.

Most foreign expats are unable to enjoy the public housing fund when living in the city, with its high property prices.

Zhou said the city should build a talent database targeting overseas professionals and open it to companies in need of high-quality professionals, because the companies now have nowhere to look for the talents they need.

"They have to ask government departments to find people for them," said Zhou.

That's an inefficient system, said Zhou, as the people the authorities find may not match up with the companies' real requirements.


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