A Profile of Foreign Nationals in a Globalising Second-Tier City, Suzhou, China

A Profile of Foreign Nationals in a Globalising Second-Tier City, Suzhou, China

Hyung Min Kim (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2673-5.ch015
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Abstract

The recent development of Chinese cities has witnessed an increasing number of foreign nationals working in China. Foreign nationals tied up with MNEs are one of the powerful drivers for urban transformation in the post-reform era. However, little attention has been paid to their socio-economics characteristics. This chapter, therefore, is to analyse characteristics of foreign nationals in socio-economic, demographic and spatial aspects. This chapter focuses on a globalising Chinese second tier-city, Suzhou as a case study.
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Introduction

The recent development of Chinese cities has witnessed an increasing number of foreign nationals working in China due to a wide range of driving forces including multinational enterprises (MNEs). Approximately 3 million foreign nationals came to China for employment purpose in 2007 (Skeldon, 2011). Firms seek out economic opportunities in Chinese cities in favour of low-cost production sites and/or in search of access to China’s growing markets. A strategy to control business operation at distance is to dispatch expatriate managers to the host city. In addition to dispatched managers by the firms, language teachers, academic staff, retailers and traders have sought out opportunities in China. Incoming foreign nationals are one of the major sources for urban transformation associated with emerging territorial and social inequality because foreign nationals are generally highly paid due to their professional skills, international experiences and knowledge sets.

As seen in the global city literature, large Chinese cities are globalising by housing MNEs and international immigrants (Chubarov & Brooker, 2013; Kang & Shouzhen, 2003; Zhang, 2014). Despite the increasing number of foreign nationals as one of the powerful drivers for urban transformation, little attention has been paid to socio-economic status of foreign nationals in China. How their social status is different from the locals? What differences can be found in different origins and industrial types? This research pays attention to these research questions to better understand the role of foreign firms and foreign nationals in China’s urban transformation, using a globalising second-tier city, Suzhou as a case study. Suzhou has been rapidly urbanising and globalising by virtue of FDI-oriented growth strategies.

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