Shanghai

ABOUT THE CITY

With a history of more than 700 years, Shanghai was once the financial center of the Far East. Since the reforms that began in the 1990s, great changes have taken place in the city. The municipal government is working towards building Shanghai into a modern metropolis and into a world economic, financial, trading and shipping center by 2020.  In fact it has been described as the “showpiece” of the world’s fastest-growing economy.

Because of Shanghai’s status as the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. It was in Shanghai, for example, that the first motor car was driven and the first train tracks and modern sewers were laid.

Shanghai has become a shopping paradise mainly because of its reputed streets, including Nanjing Road, the country’s No.1 Commercial Street. Huaihai Road, a street of world-famous brands and latest fashions to attract customers from all over the world, and Xujiahui, a shopping center gathering clothes, shoes, food, cosmetics, digital products and entertainment centers together within a circle. Surely many stops will be necessary to help you furnish your new home and self!

Back To International Cities

    Overview

    Shanghai, the most notorious of Chinese cities, once known as the Paris of the East, now calls itself the Pearl of the Orient. No other city can better capture the urgency and excitement of China’s economic reform, understandably because Shanghai is at the center of it.

    A port city, lying at the mouth of Asia’s longest and most important river, Shanghai is famous as a place where internationalism has thrived. Opened to the world as a treaty port in 1842, Shanghai for decades was not one city but a divided territory.

    Read More…

    Climate

    Shanghai has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate. The region experiences all four seasons, with freezing temperatures during the winter and a 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) average high during the hottest months of July and August. Temperature extremes of -10C (14F) and +41C (105F) have been recorded. Heavy rain is frequent in early summer. Spring starts in March, summer in June, autumn in September and winter in December. The weather in spring, although considered the most beautiful season, is highly variable, with frequent rain and alternating spells of warmth and cold.

    Read More…

    Economy

    The only large port of central China not cut off from the interior by mountains, Shanghai is the natural gateway to the Chang basin, one of China’s richest regions. It handles much of the country’s foreign shipping and a large coastal trade. Despite a lack of fuel and raw materials, Shanghai is China’s leading industrial city, with large steelworks, textile mills, and shipbuilding yards; oil-refining, gas-extracting, and diamond-processing operations; and plants making light and heavy machinery, electrical, electronic, and computer equipment, machine tools, turbines, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aircraft, tractors, motor vehicles, plastics, and consumer goods. The city is a major publishing center. Shanghai includes much of the surrounding rural area (over 2,000 sq mi/5,000 sq km), with farms producing the food crops that support the city’s population.

    Read More…

    History

    Unlike Beijing, Shanghai’s history does not date far back, and until 1842, it survived as a small sleepy fishing village. Shanghai, in Chinese, means “by the sea.” Its advantageous location, on the banks of the Yangtze River delta, soon propelled it to prominence.

    Until 1842, China and Britain remained in bitter conflict, as Britain smuggled opium into China. While Britain made a financial killing, thousands of Chinese became addicted, leading to social decay and degradation, much to the concern of the Qing Dynasty rulers. China responded by dumping British opium into Hong Kong, which subsequently set off two opium wars between the nations. At the conclusion, a humiliated China admitted defeat to the better-armed British forces.

    Read More…

    Telephone

    Dialing from New York to Shanghai:

    Dial: 011 86 20  XXXX-XXXX

    How the number is composed:

    011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A.

    86 is the international code used to dial China.

    20 is the local area or city code used to dial Shanghai.

    Read More…

    Important Contacts

    Emergency Numbers:

    Emergency: 999

    Ambulance: 120

    Fire: 119

    Police: 110

    U.S. Embassy

    Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3

    Beijing

    10-6532-4153

    http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.c

    Fast Facts

    Population – 18,670,000

    Area –   6,340.5 km²

    Elevation – 0 – 103.4 m

    Internet country code:  .cn

    Currency (code) – Yuan (CNY); also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)

    Official language – Chinese (Mandarin)

    Time zone – UTC+8

    Calling code – 21

    Electricity

    Electricity is 220V AC, 50Hz. Expect to buy some power strips, as the wall outlets are sparse, and while two-pin and three-pin sockets are standard, don’t be surprised if your apartment has five or six different types of outlets.

    Time Zone

    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Shanghai and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight savings time is not in effect:

    Shanghai Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 8 hours = 8:00pm

    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 5 hours = 7:00am

    Shanghai is on China Coast Time and does not observe Daylight Savings time.

    Embassy & Visa

    U.S. Embassy
    Xiu Shui Bei Jie 3
    Beijing
    10-6532-4153
    http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn

    Read More…

    Pets

    China has recently placed in effect a new rule that all pets must go into quarantine for seven days even if they meet all the requirements of entry. At the end of the seventh day the remainder of the 30-day quarantine period can be home quarantine.

    Read More…

    By Car

    You do not need a car to survive in Shanghai as taxis are cheap and plentiful and the subway system is new, clean and efficient. If you live a considerable distance from downtown, it is likely you will have a car and driver supplied by your employer.

    Driving in Shanghai can also be particularly stressful due to most motorists flouting any kind of traffic regulations, and the traffic is particularly bad during the rush hour periods of 7:30am-10:00am and 5:00pm-7:00pm. However, a determined few are willing to take the expensive and complex route involved in buying and running a private vehicle in order to feel that sense of freedom that driving can bring.  Keep in mind, many different types of travelers share the road, including bicyclist and mopeds, and they don’t necessarily respect a car’s bigger size.

    Anyone who wants to drive in China must have a valid Chinese driver’s license. Those without a license will need to take a theory exam, followed by a minimum of 35 hours of practical (i.e. driving) lessons, after which they can sit for the driver’s licensing test. The total cost of this is estimated to be US$500.

    Those who have a valid foreign license or international license will need to complete a registration form (notarized by your consulate), undergo a health check and in most cases take the theory test.

    Read More…

    Public Transportation

    Shanghai Metro

    http://www.shmetro.com/

    The highly touted magnetic levitation (Maglev) train is now up and running with extended hours, but unless you’re staying in the eastern reaches of Pudong, it’s not much faster or more convenient than a taxi or airport bus in getting you to your destination. Covering some 30km (19 miles) in 8 minutes, this ultra high-speed train (¥50/$6 regular ticket, ¥80/$10 same-day round-trip; ¥100/$13 one-way VIP ticket) connects Pudong International Airport to the Longyang Lu metro stop, the eastern terminus of Shanghai Metro Line 2, where you transfer to the subway. Depending on your destination, you may have to change subways once more at Renmin Guangchang, and possibly even hail a taxi before you arrive at your door, all of which makes it highly inconvenient for travelers with any kind of luggage. Maglev trains run every 20 minutes between 7am and 9pm daily.

    Mass Levitation

    Shanghai’s much-hyped mass transit showpiece, the magnetic levitation (Maglev) train, started running in late 2003, with trains connecting the 30km (19 miles) between Pudong International Airport and Pudong’s Longyang Lu Station of Metro Line 2 in no more than 8 minutes. Traveling at up to 430kmph (266mph), Maglev (a Sino-German joint-venture) has cost Shanghai upwards of ¥8.9 billion ($1.07 billion), making this the most expensive subway spur in the world.

    Read More…

    Air Transportation

    Shanghai Airport Authority

    www.shanghaiairport.com/en/index.jsp

    Pudong International Airport

    Pudong is the newest airport in the city.  It’s about 25 miles east of downtown.  The airport is clean and efficient.  It could be up to an hour drive to get downtown from here.

    Taxi

    The legitimate taxis are lined up in a long queue just outside the arrival halls of the airport (doors 3 and 16). Never go with taxi touts who approach you in the arrival halls with “Take taxi?” which is about the extent of their English. At Pudong International Airport, taxis using the new highways and the Nanpu and Lupu bridges charge ¥160 ($20) and up for the 1-hour (or longer) trip to hotels in downtown Shanghai, and only slightly less for the nearer hotels in Pudong. Most Shanghai taxi drivers are honest, but be sure the meter is on; if not, say “Da biao!” If that doesn’t work, select another taxi. All legitimate taxi meters are equipped to print out a receipt, which you can ask for by saying, “Fa piao.”

    Read More…

    Television

    In order to receive European language TV channels, you will need a satellite dish. Many apartment blocks and complexes marketed to the expatriate community are equipped with satellite receivers. European language television is also available via the Dream or AsiaSat satellites, and installation of a suitable satellite dish will cost in the region of 1800-2000 RMB.

    Shanghai’s local cable network offers around 60 local channels, among which CCTV-4 and CCTV-9 are in English. Some good hotels and apartment buildings offer their residences international channels via independent dish systems; most likely the channels are HBO Asia, Star Movies, CNN, BBC World, DW-TV, NHK, TV5, Star Sports, ESPN and maybe more channels like AXN and NGC. It differs from place to place. You can ask the property owner or your agent what channels are you going to have and how much you should pay before you move in. Meanwhile, TV serials, classic and the latest movie DVDs are available everywhere in the city. It requires a little bit of experience and luck to find good quality DVDs, however.

    www.dreamsatellite.com

    www.asiasat.com

    Newspapers

    Western newspapers are not freely available in Shanghai. Only at a few major hotels will you find the International Herald Tribune and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

    The most commonly read newspaper is the Shanghai Daily, which does cover major international events, but is mainly concerned with the economic progress of the city.

    Western magazines, too, are extremely hard to come by in Shanghai. However, the free local listings magazines like Shanghai Talk, 8 Days, That’s Shanghai, and City Weekend offer recreational reading. It might be worth considering a postal subscription to your favorite title before leaving home. Alternatively, read the web version.

    www.shanghaidaily.com – Shanghai Daily (newspaper)

    http://app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/index.html – Shanghai Star (newspaper, weekly)

    Shanghai Talk (monthly magazine)

    That’s Shanghai (monthly magazine)

    City Weekend (biweekly magazine)

    BizShanghai (magazine)

    Home & Office (magazine)

    Attractions

    The Bund

    The Bund (which means the Embankment) refers to Shanghai’s famous waterfront running along the west shore of the Huangpu River, forming the eastern boundary of old downtown Shanghai. Once a muddy towpath for boats along the river, the Bund was where the foreign powers that entered Shanghai after the Opium War of 1842 erected their distinct Western-style banks and trading houses. From here Shanghai grew into a cosmopolitan and thriving commercial and financial center, Asia’s leading city in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the awesome colonial structures you see today date from that prosperous time and have become an indelible part of Shanghai’s cityscape. Today, a wide avenue fronts the old buildings while a raised promenade on the east side of the road affords visitors pleasant strolls along the river and marvelous views of both the Bund and Pudong across the river. Pudong’s new skyscrapers and modern towers — constituting Shanghai’s “21st Century Bund” — may dominate today’s skyline, but the city’s core identity and history are strictly rooted in this unique strip on the western shore. For years, the Bund was the first sight of Shanghai for those arriving by boat.

    Read More…

    Parks & Gardens

    Fuxing Park

    Formerly a private estate in the French Concession, Fuxing Park was purchased by foreign residents and opened to the French public on July 14, 1909. It was popularly known as French Park, styled after your typical Parisian city park with wide, tree-lined walks and flower beds. Today, this is one of the city’s most popular parks, home to a number of restaurants and nightclubs, as well as to pleasant fountains, a children’s playground with a carousel and bumper cars, a rose garden to the east, 120 species of trees, and, near the north entrance, a statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel in front of which Chinese couples often practice ballroom dancing.

    Yuyuan Gardens and Bazaar

    The delightful Yuyuan Gardens took 18 years (1559-77) to create, only to be ransacked during the Opium War in 1842. The gardens have been restored and are worth visiting to see a fine example of Ming garden design. The bazaar is a wonderland of tasty snacks and souvenirs.

    Read More…

    Museums

    Shanghai Art Museum

    Relocated in 2000 to the historic clock tower building on the northwest end of People’s Square, the museum is more to be seen for its 1930s monumental interior architecture than for its art. The artworks in the 12 exhibit halls are certainly worthy of note, ranging from modern traditional oils to recent pop canvases, but they are overwhelmed by the fastidiously restored wood and marble interiors of this 1933 five-story neoclassical landmark. People’s Square, today’s Renmin Guangchang, was a racecourse in colonial times, and today’s clock tower, erected in 1933, marks the location of the original grandstand of 1863. After 1949, the building was used as the Shanghai Museum and the Shanghai Library. Today, in addition to the artwork, there is a classy American restaurant, Kathleen’s 5, on the fifth floor.

    Shanghai Museum

    Frequently cited as the best museum in China, the Shanghai Museum has 11 state-of-the-art galleries and three special exhibition halls arranged on four floors, all encircling a spacious cylindrical atrium. The exhibits are tastefully displayed and well lit, and explanatory signs are in English as well as Chinese. For size, the museum’s 120,000 historic artifacts cannot match the world-renowned Chinese collections in Beijing, Taipei, and Xi’an, but are more than enough to fill the galleries on any given day with outstanding treasures. Many foreign visitors to the museum often rank it as Shanghai’s very best site.

    Compulsory Education

    The Chinese school system is structured very much like the U.S. system, with elementary, junior high, and high schools. Beyond that, there are universities, some of which allow foreign students to enroll, and technical schools. The official school calendar is established by the central government each year and typically begins around September 1, ending around July 15 for summer break. The other major break is for Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, which typically runs January 15-March 1.

    Because both parents typically work in China, the children start their schooling in a preschool (called “kindergarten” in China) as early as two years old, unless the grandparents are able to watch the children. There are quite a few private English preschools available, whether run by foreigners or Chinese. At six years old, every child is required to be enrolled in elementary school, which lasts until age 12. Junior high follows and lasts three years. The kindergarten, elementary, and junior high schools are assigned based on where the child lives, but at the end of junior high, a rigorous standardized test determines which high school the child will attend. After high school, students take another exam that determines which university they’ll be admitted to, if any. Those who perform poorly on the exam can’t attend college and will be off to trade school and eventually the factory floor.

    With the exception of a few small fees for books and the like, public education through high school is free for locals, though foreigners will have to pay a nominal fee to enroll their children.

    International Schools

    In Shanghai there are plenty of very good international schools, where English is the medium of education. It is recommended that you visit as many schools as possible and talk to as many fellow parents as possible before enrolling your children, as prices and facilities can vary considerably. The majority of international schools are located in the expatriate suburbs of Hongqiao, Pudong and Changning, just northwest of the downtown areas. The Shanghai American School has large elementary, middle, and high schools; technology labs; and impressive sports facilities including an aquatic center. The Yew Chung Shanghai International School, which follows a British curriculum, has a campus in Hongqiao and a boarding school in Gubei.

    There are a number of international schools in and around Jinqiao. In the heart of Biyun, the Concordia International School is a top-notch college prep school with an American curriculum and a Christian emphasis. Next door is the Pinghe Bilingual School, a boarding school where most of the students come from the wealthiest families in China. A number of the students are foreigners (about 5 percent are westerners) whose parents want their children to learn Chinese. The Dulwich British School is just a few blocks away. A half-hour’s drive to the east is the Shanghai American School with its sprawling 23-acre seaside campus located adjacent to the Shanghai Links golf course.

    British International School Shanghai (Pudong)

    600 Cambridge Forest New Town

    2729 Hunan Rd.

    Pudong, Shanghai

    21-5812-7455

    21-6819-6290 (Fax)

    enquiries-puxi@bisschina.com

    www.bisschina.com

    Concordia International School (Pudong)

    999 Ming Yue Rd., Jinqiao

    Pudong, Shanghai

    21-5899-0380

    21-5899-1685 (Fax)

    registrar@ciss.com.cn

    www.ciss.com.cn

    Dulwich College International School

    222 Lan An Lu, Jinqiao

    Pudong, Shanghai

    21-5899-9910

    21-5899-9810 (Fax)

    www.dulwichcollege.cn

    The SMIC Private School (Pudong)

    Elementary School Division (Grades 1-5)

    No. 3, Lane 19, Qing Tong Road

    Pudong New Area, Shanghai 201203

    Tel: (86 21) 5855 4588

    Fax: (86 21) 5895 7828

    Middle & High School Division (Grades 6-12)

    169 Qing Tong Road

    Pudong New Area, Shanghai 201203

    Tel: (86 21) 5855 4588

    Fax: (86 21) 5855 7462

    soochin_lee@smicschool.com

    www.smic-school.cn

    Shanghai American School (SAS)

    258 Jin Feng Rd.

    Zhudi Town, Shanghai

    21-6221-1445

    info@saschina.org

    www.saschina.org

    Shanghai Pinghe Bilingual School

    261 Huang Yang Rd., Jinqiao

    Pudong, Shanghai

    21-5031-0417

    21-5854-1617 (Fax)

    www.shphschool.com

    Yew Chung International School of Shanghai

    11 Shui Cheng Rd.

    Hongqiao, Shanghai

    21-6242-3243

    21-6242-7331 (Fax)

    www.ycef.com

    Local Schools

    More and more foreigners are opting to send their young children to local Chinese kindergartens due to the significantly lower tuition fees, as well as the opportunity for their children to learn Chinese and make Shanghaianese friends. Local kindergartens are often in spacious buildings with great on-site facilities. The class sizes are usually around 20-30, and teachers are supported by classroom aides. Parents must register their children in person, bringing their passport, Chinese-issued health certificate and a vaccination certificate. For students in Grade 1 and above, selected local schools are open, but students must have an adequate base of Mandarin plus the required documentation.

    Higher Education

    China’s higher education system consists of technical schools and universities. The tech schools prepare students for careers in fields such as manufacturing, cosmetology, and cooking, while the universities function just as in the United States. There is no community college or junior college system, but some private schools are filling in the gap, such as the Australian Informatics College. Unlike the universities, the private schools often don’t require minimum test scores.

    More than 50 Chinese universities accept foreign students. Beijing is the top destination for most, with Qinghua and Beida Universities at the top of the list. Shanghai is the second most popular study city, and Fudan and Jiaotong are the preferred schools. Another popular choice is Zheijiang University in Hangzhou, China’s largest.

    The Chinese university system is almost identical to the U.S. system, with bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees awarded. Be aware that at this point in time, a degree from a Chinese university may not be recognized by a western employer, and credits from a Chinese university might not transfer into a western university.

    As in the United States, the academic calendar consists of a fall and spring semester, and most schools also have intensive summer programs. Admission is typically limited to the fall semester, which generally starts around September 1, so you will need to apply in the spring.

    China Europe International Business School, Shanghai

    699 Hongfeng Rd.

    Pudong, Shanghai

    21-2890-5890

    21-2890-5678 (Fax)

    www.ceibs.edu

    Fudan University, Shanghai

    Foreign Students Office

    Fudan University

    220 Han Dan Rd.

    Shanghai

    21-6511-7628

    21-6511-7298 (Fax)

    www.fudan.edu.cn

    Shanghai Jiao Tong University

    School of International Education

    1954 Hua Shan Rd.

    Shanghai

    21-6282-1079

    21-6281-7613 (Fax)

    www.sjtu.edu.cn

    Language Schools

    If possible, you should start learning Chinese in your home city before moving to China. More and more western universities now offer 2-3 years of Chinese classes, or you can sign up at one of the language schools that can now be found in virtually every major western city. The best way to achieve fluency once in China is to enroll in a university program. At least one university in each large city has a Mandarin language program for international students.

    You’ll also find privately run language schools that cater to foreigners. You can enroll in a group class or sign up for individual one-on-one instruction. Some crash courses are as short as 10 days, but most classes meet two or three times a week for a month. If you don’t know any Chinese at all, after completing an intensive one-month beginner’s course you’ll know about 250 words. This isn’t too bad considering you need to know about 800 words for basic daily life, but you’re nowhere near the 3,000 needed to read a newspaper. Foreigners who enroll in a school tend to learn at a much more rapid pace than those who just study on their own.

    HSK

    The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) test is a Chinese-language proficiency test. Just like Chinese students who take the TOEFEL test before studying in the United States, foreign students take the HSK to be placed at the appropriate level within a Chinese university. Foreign workers use their HSK scores to prove their Chinese-language ability to prospective employers. There is a preliminary level and then three official levels scored on a scale of 1 to 11. Elementary is 1-3, intermediate is 4-8, and advanced is 9-11. A minimum score of 6 is required to be admitted to study in a Chinese university program taught in Mandarin. You can take the test in China or at a number of overseas locations.

    Mandarin Times

    Unit 705, Apollo Building

    1440 Yan An Road

    Shanghai

    21-6103-1638

    21-6249-5439 (Fax)

    www.mandarintimes.com

    Modern Mandarin

    Room 510, Ruijin Business Center

    96 Zhaojiabang Rd.

    Shanghai

    21-6437-4808

    21-6437-6938 (Fax)

    www.modernmandarin.com

    Dining

    Anyone who has eaten Chinese food knows that steamed white rice always accompanies the meal, but what is perhaps less well known is just how integral rice and grain-based foods are in Chinese culture. The Mandarin word fan means both ‘rice’ and ‘food.’ In China, a good deal of casual talk centers around the expression, “ni chi fan le ma?” literally meaning, “Have you eaten rice (food) yet?” Regardless of region, a typical Chinese meal consists of a grain base-the fan-such as rice, noodles, or buns, with meat and vegetable dishes, referred to as cai, adding flavor and variety to, but not overriding the integrity of, the fan.

    The possibilities for cai are enormous. China’s abundant variety of meats and vegetables are stir-fried, stewed, steamed, baked, roasted, oil- and water-blanched, deep-fried…every kind of cooking method is well represented. Throughout China, pork is the most widespread and best-loved meat. In the north and west, pork and mutton are eaten in abundance, while south and east China have a profusion of fish and shellfish, as well as poultry, pork, and soy products.

    Read More…

    Currency & Banking

    The Bank of China and CITIC Industrial Bank provide personal and corporate banking facilities for expatriates in China, as do the main foreign banks, HSBC (London), Standard Chartered Bank (London), and Citibank (New York). These banks offer multicurrency accounts, renminbi accounts, foreign exchange, credit cards, ATMs, loans, and even mortgages. The main branches of China’s other banks may also provide such services, but their banking facilities are likely to be more limited.

    To open a current (checking) or savings account you usually just need to complete a signature card, show your passport as identification, and make the appropriate deposit (varies depending on bank and type of account). The Chinese economy still runs primarily on cash despite all of China’s strides toward modernization; checks and credit cards are not likely to be accepted in many places other than high-end tourist hotels and large shopping centers.

    Read More…

    Etiquette

    Deeply rooted in Chinese society is the need to belong and conform to a unit, whether the family, a political party or an organization. The family is the focus of life for most Chinese. Age and rank are highly respected. To be successful in your relationships in China, it is imperative to play by the rules of the Chinese social paradigm. Understanding the role of guanxi (connections) and mianzi (saving face), two of the most important social values in China, will help you know what to expect in your relationships with the Chinese.

    Mianzi

    The idea of shame, usually expressed as ‘face,’ could be loosely defined as a loss of status or self-respect, similar to the western concept of ‘losing face.’ Never insult, embarrass, shame, yell at or otherwise demean a Chinese person. Any criticism should be delivered privately, discreetly and tactfully.

    Read More…

    Healthcare

    In many ways the Chinese have a much healthier society than Americans. At a time of day when most Americans are hitting their snooze buttons, many Chinese are hitting their local park for tai chi exercises and ballroom dance practice, followed by their daily commute by bicycle. Chinese meals are often high-vegetable, low-meat, low-sugar affairs that keep the cholesterol and the weight down. And traditional medicine shops do a brisk business in dried snake, seahorse, and ginseng root, believed to work wonders for one’s vitality and longevity.

    Adopting a traditional Chinese lifestyle may add a few years to your life, but there are plenty of influences that will take away from it as well. Diseases tend to float around rural China with fluidity.

    Read More…

    Housing

    Apartments

    Standard apartments are the most common housing arrangements for both locals and foreigners alike. “Standard” is in contrast to “serviced,” which are apartments that are run more like hotel rooms complete with services like daily housekeeping and room service. Standard apartments vary greatly in quality, size, and cost. At one end of the spectrum you might find very old (and very cheap) apartments, with rudimentary plumbing and no heating or air-conditioning. Modern luxury apartments, on the other hand, may have large garden tubs, Italian marble and real hardwood floors, central heat and air, and broadband DSL access wired into the walls. Those that are designed with foreigners in mind will have a washer and dryer, a built-in oven, a dishwasher, and lots of kitchen cupboards and storage closets (all at a cost, of course). The nicer the apartment complex, the more amenities will be located within its walls, such as convenience marts, beauty salons, health club facilities, swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops.

    Read More…

    Holidays

    The Chinese observe two sets of holidays, official and traditional. Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao also have their own official and traditional holidays.

    Official Holidays

    January 1 – New Year’s Day

    January 2 – New Year’s Day Holiday

    March 8 – International Women’s Day

    April 1 – Tree Planting Day

    May 1 – International Labor Day

    May 4 – Youth Day

    June 1 – Children’s Day

    July 1 – CCP Founding Day

    August 1 – Army Day

    September 1 – Teacher’s Day

    October 1 – National Day

    Read More

    Taxes

    If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living or traveling outside the United States, you generally are required to file income tax returns, estate tax returns, and gift tax returns and pay estimated tax in the same way as those residing in the United States. Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you must file a return. Generally, you must file a return if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the Filing Requirements table in Chapter 1 of Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad (available at www.irs.gov). The IRS web site has a wealth of information available for the overseas taxpayer. Follow the ‘Individuals’ and ‘International Taxpayers’ links, or search for IRS Publication 54.

    U.S. Tax Information

    Internal Revenue Service

    P.O. Box 920

    Bensalem, PA 19020

    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

    Chinese Income Taxes

    The Individual Income Tax (IIT) in China is a progressive tax just like in the United States. The first 4,000 ($500) of your monthly salary isn’t taxed, but for wages up to 20,000 ($2,500), you are taxed 20 percent (after a 375  /$47 standard deduction), for wages 20,001-40,000 ($2,500-5,000) the tax rate is 25 percent (after a 1,375 /$170 deduction), and so on. The highest tax bracket is income over 100,000  with a marginal tax rate of 45 percent.

    Unlike the United States where income taxes are paid once a year, in China they are paid each month. Employers typically handle the tax burden for their employees. They’ll withhold the tax from your salary and pay the State Administration of Taxes on your behalf, so you’ll never have to personally file your taxes.

    U.S. Income Taxes

    According to the tax treaty between the United States and China, you are entitled to tax credit; generally the amount of tax paid in China can be used as a tax credit when you file your taxes in the United States. So if you owe $5,000 to the IRS this year, but already paid the ITT $1,000, you just have to pay the IRS $4,000. The principle of reciprocity supposedly keeps international tax matters simple.

    If you plan to file a tax return in the United States, the best way to reduce U.S. taxes on your Chinese income is to claim the Foreign Earned Income Deduction. You can treat $80,000 of your income as not taxable. To qualify you must earn your income abroad and pay taxes abroad (i.e. to China). Use IRS form 2555 to claim your deduction and submit your Chinese tax documents.

    Mail Delivery

    Letters and postcards can be mailed within China for 1 ($0.12) or less, depending on the destination. Airmail letters or postcards to the United States currently cost about 12 ($1.50). Package rates within China are just about 100 ($12.50) per kilogram, and packages sent internationally via surface mail cost a little more than 200  ($25) per kilogram. International packages can also be airmailed, but the rates will be at least quadruple the surface mail rates. Options like delivery confirmation and certified mail are not available in the Chinese postal system.

    To mail a package, or to receive a package at the post office, you are required to show your passport and fill out some paperwork. When shipping a package, don’t seal your box before you go to the post office, as the contents will need to be inspected.

    www.chinapost.gov.cn – China Post
    www.cn.dhl.com/publish/cn/en.high.html  – DHL (China)
    www.fedex.com/cn_english  – FedEx (China)
    www.ups.com/content/cn/en/index.jsx  – UPS (China)

    Business Hours

    Normal working hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. Almost all government offices, institutions, schools, and other official units do not work on Saturday and Sunday.

    Hospitals, post offices, banks, monuments, and museums are usually open seven days a week from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Hospital emergency clinics are open even when the rest of the hospital is closed to visitors. Shops usually remain open from 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, including public holidays. Restaurants and bars stay open later at night. It is possible to eat as late as 10:00 p.m., and some open-air restaurants stay open even later into the night.

    Work Permits

    Work permit visas allow UK based employers to employ individuals who are not nationals of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and who are not entitled to work in the UK. The most important thing to understand in UK work permits is that in the UK the employer applies for the work permit and the work permit is granted for a particular employee.

    Here are the steps for an employee currently outside the UK and wishing to take up a new job in the UK:

    1. Complete a new work permit application and send to Work Permits UK
    2. Once the work permit is approved, a visa application will need to be made at the British Embassy or Consulate where the employee is resident. The visa is endorsed in the employee’s passport.

    Once the visa is approved at a British Embassy or Consulate or a further leave to remain (IED) application is approved from within the UK it gives the employer permission to employ a specific person in a specific job at a specific location

    1. Once a Work Permit has been granted, it (the original document, not simply a copy) should be sent to you by your employer as you will need it in your possession before you enter the UK. All UK work permit holders staying for longer than six months also need to get a visa (entry clearance) before travelling to the UK.

    Only if you are not a ’visa national’ and you have a work permit for less than six months can you simply arrive in the UK with your Work Permit and your passport (which should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry). On presenting these documents to the immigration officer at the port of entry, such individuals should be granted entry for the duration of the work permit.