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Working in Beijing?

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Living in China, from Norway

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Beijing at a Glance

Working in Beijing

Expats working in Beijing have become a rather common phenomenon over the past two decades. No wonder! Many foreign nationals are seizing the opportunity as international companies flock to China to tap into this huge market. We tell you what to expect when working in Beijing.

Taking up employment in Beijing means working in China’s major post-industrial city. Nowadays, less than a third of the labor force in the Beijing area is employed in industry, let alone agriculture. Over 70% of Beijing’s considerable annual GDP (gross domestic product) comes from the tertiary sector. The industrial activity in China’s capital is mainly limited to Beijing’s future growth industries.

Economic Developments in Science and Technology

The Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area (BDA) is located in suburban Yizhuang. It attracts enterprises from the fields of materials engineering, electronics, and pharmaceutics, such as the global healthcare corporation Sanofi-Aventis.

A lot of IT whizzes are employed in Beijing’s “Silicon Valley”, i.e. in Zhōngguāncūn Science Park in the university district of Heidian. If you are interested in working in Beijing’s branch of a high-tech or ICT company such as Google, Intel, or Microsoft, you are likely to end up in a Zhōngguāncūn office, too.

Founded in 1988 and administrated by the Beijing Municipal Government, Zhōngguāncūn Science Park is the biggest and most successful of China’s over 50 national science parks. It is not only interesting for people from the IT industry, but also for everyone focusing on intellectual property rights, venture capital, and start-up businesses.

An increasing number of highly qualified employees working in Beijing’s “Silicon Valley”, especially in the area of research and development, are supposed to boost China’s competitiveness in patent affairs. Despite the many scientists in China’s university cities, only an annual 10-11 successful patent applications were filed per 10,000 Chinese researchers in 2000. This was a low outcome in comparison with countries like Germany, Japan, and the US.

However, since 2006, successful international patent applications from Chinese patent holders have been soaring, especially in the field of telecommunications. This shows that the efforts of researchers working in Beijing and other science parks are bearing fruit. Unfortunately, though, the Chinese ICT industry has recently been affected by the general economic lull worldwide. Innovations or no, there are some challenges ahead for 2013.


The combination of growing scientific and technological innovation and the financial importance of the capital create a good for Chinese entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Finance is one of the most important employers for everyone working in Beijing’s tertiary sector. Real estate, though, has lost some of its former significance since the biggest construction boom seems to be over for now.

Although the Chinese stock exchange is located in Shanghai and Shenzhen rather than Beijing, Beijing Financial Street is nonetheless referred to as China’s “Wall Street”. It hosts the nation’s three most important regulatory and supervisory institutions, the biggest Chinese commercial banks, as well as hundreds of domestic and foreign financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. No wonder that the city is home to over 40 Fortune Global 500 companies, which employ a great number of people working in Beijing.

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