Employees at a factory on the outskirts of Shanghai (Reuters).
The United States and western Europe have long been the dream career destinations for the young of developing countries. A job in a developed country offers more pay, better working conditions and a higher standard of living than what is available at home. Many of those who made it overseas have contributed to the development of their host countries, offering skilled labour and setting up businesses.
But for many, the dream of a ticket to the West has taken a backseat since the financial crisis set in. Job opportunities are not as good as they were before, visa rules have become stricter and, most importantly, immigration, especially with the focus on the illegal kind, has taken prominence as an issue that affects the lives of the host population.
On the other side of the globe, a reformed Chinese economy expanding at a quick pace is increasingly grabbing attention. Although its development has, of late, been pulled back by the slowing global economy, the country still remains one of the fastest growing in the world. Its Communist government, poised to meet at the 18th Party Congress to anoint a new leadership, is ambitious and makes sure that development does not remain limited to economy but includes science and technology, sports, defence and other areas.
Not surprisingly, it is also keen on attracting the world's best talent to assist its growth.
"As globalisation deepens, China is adopting more attractive policies towards getting talent from around the world," said Liu Yanguo, deputy chief of China's State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, told China Daily.
"We talked about the American Dream in the past, now we can talk about the world's top talent enjoying the 'Chinese Dream'," he said. In an effort to realise that, China was aiming at better workplace facilities and simpler visa regulations, he said.
The efforts does seem to have had an impact. In HSBC's Expat Explorer survey, which ranks countries on the basis of a number of factors concerning life abroad, China jumped to seventh in 2012 from 19th in 2011. The major reasons cited were better pay and quality of life for expats. Sixty-four percent surveyed said that their household financial status saw a marked improvement.
Inevitably, China's interest in talent has given Asian youth a new alternative to the West for a better career. Speaking to IBTimes UK, Véronique Salze-Lozac'h, director of economic development at the Asia Foundation in Bangkok, pointed out that this was especially true in terms of service sectors such as banking.
"The trend is accentuated by the fact that top Chinese universities are becoming more and more attractive to Asian youth," she noted.
"Chinese universities are gaining a strong reputation of providing quality education at a more affordable cost than other famous universities in places like Singapore. The opportunity to study in China and possibly gain experience in this booming economy will certainly be perceived as strong assets for Asian youth in the coming years".
According to a report by the Indian television channel CNN IBN, China was becoming a top destination for Indian students to pursue a career in medicine, mainly because of lower expenses. There are a number of factors, however, that cause foreign aspirants to think twice before venturing into the world's second largest economy.
Chiharu Morimoto, a final year student of tourism and hospitality management from Kanagawa, Japan, said that the complexity of the Chinese language, with its numerous dialects, can be an issue.
"I don't speak Mandarin at all, which would probably be a big problem as language matters to me," she pointed out.
Chinese culture could also pose challenges to foreigners. But perhaps a more significant issue would be the country's adherence to the communist system, which would be tough for someone from a democratic world to comprehend.
Salze-Lozac'h added that Chinese immigration policies, local labour force numbers and future requirements would determine if interest in the country widened to accommodate less educated and qualified workers.
"China's position as the region's superpower can only work as a magnet for ambitious Asia youth, whether they are interested in boosting their career or starting a business," she said.
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