Shanghai yesterday topped a list of most attractive cities on the Chinese mainland for foreigners for the seventh consecutive year.
At the 17th Conference on International Exchange of Professionals in Shenzhen, Zhang Jianguo, the deputy science and technology minister, released the latest "Amazing China — the Most Attractive Chinese Cities for Foreigners" ranking.
Launched in 2010 by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the poll required foreigners to vote in four categories — expat-friendly policies, governmental administrative capacity, and working and living conditions.
"Shanghai is becoming a very important hub for international talent," Oscar Ramos, managing director of Shanghai-based Chinaccelerator, the first startup accelerator launched in China, told Shanghai Daily.
"On one side local companies are internationalizing more and faster than ever and that requires global teams with cultural diversity. On the other hand, there's great potential to build new products and services in Shanghai that will have global potential."
"Shanghai citizens and enterprises are early adopters of new technology, and the dynamic environment is a great ecosystem for innovation that is starting to be leveraged by both startups and multinationals,"he said.
Ramos said that when he decided to move to China 11 years ago, his go-to destinations were initially Shenzhen or Beijing. He thought they would be perfect for his startup until a friend recommended Shanghai.
"Building a startup is a marathon and the support ecosystem is very important. Shanghai not only had a very supportive international community but in general was more welcoming for business with foreigners," he added.
Frenchman Sebastien Gaudin released healthcare app CareVoice in Jing'an district in Shanghai in 2014.
"Shanghai concentrates large successful multinational companies, Chinese private companies and fast-growing startups across sectors providing great opportunities for any foreign talent," he said.
"The quality of life is great too. The city has been modernized while preserving its heritage. Quality of air has been drastically improved and the many outside areas make it easy to enjoy sports and other activities. Shanghai is definitely the most international city on the Chinese mainland, making it uniquely positioned to attract foreign talent," Gaudin said.
The ranking was based on a poll carried out among nearly 10,000 foreigners throughout China including Nobel laureates and Chinese Friendship Award and Turing Award recipients.
They included Konstantin Novoselo, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010; Edvard Moser, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014; and Leslie Valiant, winner of the 2010 ACM A.M. Turing Award.
Beijing came in second followed by Hefei, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Qingdao, Tianjin, Xi'an and Wuhan. Chengdu, Nanjing and Guangzhou, which were on the previous year's list, were replaced by Tianjin, Xi'an and Wuhan.
Currently, Shanghai has 215,000 working foreigners, accounting for 23.7 percent of the Chinese mainland's total, and 55 of them have been honored with the Chinese government's Friendship Award.
Since April 2017, Shanghai has issued more than 120,000 work permits, with more than 18 percent issued to high-level foreign professionals, topping the country.
Shanghai has streamlined procedures for foreigners to apply for visas. Work and residence permits can be obtained in just five days.
Last month, the city government released 25 measures offering greater financial and administrative support for aspiring innovators to accelerate the city's development as a global science innovation hub by encouraging overseas research and innovation institutes to build global innovation centers in Shanghai and cooperate with local laboratories.