CHINA - Regional disparity in attracting foreign talent to China is highlighted by survey results released on Wednesday showing that inland areas have a long way to go in attracting professionals from overseas.
All 10 of the cities considered the most attractive by expatriates are in eastern China, the survey shows.
The top 10 comprises Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Qingdao, according to the survey.
It was conducted by the Beijing magazine International Talent Monthly and the China Association for International Exchange of Personnel.
In the previous two surveys in 2011 and 2012, cities in eastern China also topped the list.
About 72,000 expatriates and English-speakers took part in this year's survey through questionnaires or by voting on the China Daily website.
Of the eight cities recognised by respondents as having high potential to become the most attractive for foreigners in China, only three are in central or western areas - Changsha, Chongqing and Chengdu.
William Brown, who started teaching at Xiamen University in the late 1980s and received a Chinese "green card" in 1992, said: "Some (Chinese) cities are simply too remote for many foreigners.
"However, the western development programmes are rapidly giving inland provinces easy access to the rest of China and the world."
Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, a borough in east London, said he believes it is important for Chinese cities to conduct research to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to try to lure global talent through their unique identities.
"If you want to attract talent, you need to offer something unique," he said.
Shanghai beat 29 rival cities in the survey with the highest recognition in terms of working and living environment, an expatriate-friendly policy, and administrative capacity.
Stuart Dunn, a Briton who has lived in Shanghai for four years, said it is an attractive place, with a very low crime rate and reasonable cost of living compared with major cities in the West.
"Shanghai has great arrangement for sports events, and the entertainment and social life here are exciting. It's not only a centre for business, but also for culture and fun," said Dunn, who manages a bar chain.
He said he lived in the Middle East before coming to Shanghai and believes China offers more cultural diversity.
Although Shanghai and Beijing scored the highest points overall, they scored the lowest on environment.
Beijing was shrouded in severe smog for weeks early this year, with pollutants from vehicle emissions, coal- burning in neighbouring regions and construction dust.