Why Foreign Corporations in China Aren’t as Popular Among Job Seekers as They Used to Be

Article Why Foreign Corporations in China Aren’t as Popular Among Job Seekers as They Used to Be




Chinese job seekers used to covet positions with foreign corporations. But since the late 2010s, young job seekers’ preferences have shifted toward homegrown companies. In this article from NetEase’s Wellestudio163 WeChat wemedia account on social and business trends, Luo Jie traces the evolution of Chinese views toward Western firms in China. Learn why foreign companies that used to be synonymous with wealth and sophistication have fallen from grace. 


Between the 1980s and the early 2000s, working for a foreign corporation in China meant prestige, success and sophistication. 

The first foreign companies entered China in the early 1980s, setting up camp in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. At the time, foreign firms weren’t yet allowed to hire Chinese nationals. The select group of Chinese who worked for them were technically employees of state-owned enterprises – contracted out to provide services for foreign companies. To the rest of the country, these contractors represented sophistication: They wore suits to work, drank coffee and used English names instead of their Chinese given names.

China’s initial Reform and Opening-Up policies took time to implement since transitioning to a market economy was a step-by-step process that China took with caution. For this reason, the number of foreign companies and the scope of their businesses kept a low profile in the 1980s. Foreign companies were skeptical of China’s commitment to opening its economy until 1992, when Chinese leader...

About the Author

Luo Jie writes for Wellestudio163, an official WeChat account created by Chinese internet company NetEase. Wellestudio163 focuses on history, business and current social trends. 

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