The Nanfang Insider recently did a post entitled, Is There an Expat Exodus in China? Not Quite. The post used a bunch of pretty much irrelevant statistics to argue that there is no such exodus. I would contend that there has been and is continuing to be an exodus of Americans from China.
All I can talk about is what I keep hearing and seeing and that is the following:
- Just about every single week, one of my firm’s China lawyers gets an email from an American lawyer who has been in China for five to ten years and is wanting to “go home” to the United States. Five years ago, we probably got one of these emails every year.
- It’s not just well known expats like Mark Kitto, Charlie Custer, and Marc van der Chijs (all mentioned in the Nanfang Insider post) who are leaving or talking about leaving. I know of a slew of well-known expats who have for all intents and purposes already left (they are living in the United States but spend maybe 10-25% of their time in China) but have never announced it. I also know of another slew of such expats who are looking to do the same. I do not feel free to name names yet, but I am sure that some of these will be hitting the news within months.
- It is the rare parent with young kids in Beijing who does not at least talk about leaving due to the pollution.
- The crazy-good opportunities for freshly minted American college graduates are much fewer than they were five years ago and college students are catching on to this and just not going. Five years ago, graduates would go to China to get a job. Now they are working for a year or two in the United States to earn money to travel around the world for a year or so to gain international experience, with plans to return to the United States for grad school or a job. I know that I am generalizing here, but this is what I am seeing and hearing.
What do you-all think? Is there an exodus of Americans leaving China? Is China still the hot place for Americans?