work in China
Career Advice

10 Things You Need To Know To Work In China

Not many people consider working and moving to China a feasible and lucrative option. However this is far from the truth, and the notion has developed because of some basic misconceptions about life and working here.

So if you are planning on working with the Chinese, here are 10 things you need to know to work in China.

Quick Guide:

#1 – People speak Mandarin here and not ‘Chinese’
#2 – You can learn Mandarin
#3 – Faster promotions
#4 – Cheaper living expenses
#5 – Very kind people
#6 – Great social life
#7 – More Westernized than thought
#8 – Optimal safety
#9 – Squatter toilets
#10 – You can speak English

1. People speak Mandarin here and not ‘Chinese’

People in China do not speak “Chinese” as Chinese is not a single or unified language spoken here. It is a confluence of various dialects spoken in different regions of the country where the most commons are Mandarin and Cantonese.

In addition to these many dialects, there are some additional dialects which don’t even sound like these standard dialects. However, a majority of the people in China speak or at least know Mandarin Chinese.

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2. You can learn Mandarin

A single Chinese character does not mean an entire word. While there are some characters that may represent a few Chinese words, most of the words are made up of two or more characters. You needn’t worry if you don’t know Mandarin as its easy learning basic mandarin as its grammar is easier than English, French or German grammar. Of course, you need a few years training to speak philosophical Mandarin, but anyone can easily converse here after learning basic Mandarin vocabulary.

3. Faster promotions

It’s beneficial to you to work in China as your foreign expertise and ability at helping Chinese companies give global competition will help provide prompt upward mobility at your job. In other words, you have a better chance of getting a quick promotion, and higher wages in China than at back home.

4. Cheaper living expenses

The low cost of living in China comes as a boon to you after living so expensively back home. On an average, an apartment in central Beijing costs only $550 a month. So though wages may be relatively low here, the lower cost of living in China means you can live comfortably even with a salary less than $1500 a month. Moreover, as a filling and delicious complete meal in China costs only $1.50, making it easy for anyone to save money here even while eating out every night.

5. Very kind people

The Chinese are some of the kindest and gracious people in the world. They will, in fact, go out of their way to do everything possible to ensure you feel happy and welcome in China. So don’t grow suspicious of the overwhelming kindness of your colleagues as it’s their nature!

6. Great social life

You will love working in China if you are an extrovert and love having an active social life as the big cities here offer a 24-hour lifestyle. These cities offer a variety of restaurants, clubs and bars to go to for a good night out.

Moreover, China boasts a vibrant cultural scene through its rock concerts, art exhibitions, great theater, opera, ballet, and more. There’s so much here like martial arts, a Beyoncé concert and Irish dancing that you may find it difficult finding time attending everything!

7. More Westernized than thought

Don’t worry about missing out on your favorite burger joints as China is much more westernized than you’d envisioned. In fact, you will find yourself surrounded by burger joints, Italian restaurants, western shops and cinemas in some places, making you feel as if you were in some cosmopolitan city in the world where everything’s so cheap here!

8. Optimal safety

You can safely work in China as you can walk safely on its streets. The government is very strict about this, which is why you seldom find any crimes here, and if at all there are any muggings, thefts or fights it’s usually amidst the expats!

9. Squatter toilets

Be ready for squatter toilets’ in China where you have to squat and not sit to use the toilet. And before going to the bathroom, it’s important you take your own toilet paper or tissues, roll up your pants before doing your stuff and throw the soiled paper in the basket and not the actual toilet.

10. You can speak English

And yes, people do speak English in China as English has been integrated into the Chinese education system. English is in fact very popular in major Chinese cities. And as most people here are eager and waiting to practice their English skills with people like you, don’t hesitate to speak in English where possible and applicable.

Now that you know these 10 important things, you will find it much easier and enjoyable to work in China!

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  • Avatar

    Great information here! I didn’t realize the language misconceptions. It is good to know that the spoken language is Mandarin and not ” Chinese”. I didn’t realize that your could work in China and only speak English either. It appears that a career in China could be worth all the process you have to go through to get there.

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    Raymond Hall

    Interesting article, contained a few points I did not know. I am amazed that eating out is so cheap in China as opposed to where I live, in the UK. I think cost of living would be the thing that really attracts me to a life in China. The UK is just ridiculously expensive in comparison. I also did not know English was spoken, pretty much at all. I had the impression that Chinese were very strict in speaking only their own native language, meaning knowing it would be a must for living there.

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    Sandeep Saroha

    This is a myth breaking article. And it will be extremely helpful for any foreigners. It can tempt you to leave your country and start working and living in China.

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    To my surprise, people speaks Mandarin more then Chinese in China. If we can speak English as well in China than it would be great, a highly recommended article for people who want to settle here.

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    Hassan S

    Great Article! It is on point when it comes to the lower cost of living in China compared to the rest of the nation’s skilled labor force competitors. This i predict is the future magnet of skilled/expatriate labor to China.