Fresh on the heels of another story about expats leaving China in droves, Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday met with foreign experts in Beijing to wish them happy new year and beg them to stay promise them that it will be easier for them in the future.

"In order to keep growing, China needs the help from international personnel and will provide opportunities for them to show their talents," Li told a room full of foreign experts and their families at the Great Hall of the People Tuesday.

"China will be more open to welcome foreigners to work here," Li said, noting simplified immigration processes, removing barriers to foreign investment, liberalizing "green card" policies, and setting up more foreigner-friendly kiosks as key steps in making life in China easier to navigate for non-natives.

He also made specific references to start-ups: "[We aim to] provide as much help as possible to foreign workers and startups in China, so that foreigners will love to come to China, stay in China, and start businesses here."

It's good to hear that investment barriers will be reduced, but that seems like a long, arduous process and we'll believe progress when we see it. Truth be told, investment barriers and China's visa policy are not the root of the problem  most expats complain about the same things that Chinese people do: the pollution, the traffic, the rising cost of living, and the fact that they can't easily access a number of the world's most popular websites.

Nevertheless, it's a good sign that these promises are being coneyed by a top Chinese leader, as opposed to a mid-level bureaucrat. This is the first time the Premier has touched upon the issue of the elusive Chinese green card, which could hint that real reform in this area could be on its way. Of course, we've heard this before, like in 2010 and more recently, last summer.

After years of continuous decline in international arrivals, Li's speech will hopefully help to attract more foreigners to work in China. As China's economy grew only 7.3 percent in 2014, the lowest in 24 years, the Chinese Premier undoubtedly hopes that increased foreign interest can help counter the economic slowdown.

A total of 67 foreign workers from 32 countries joined the seminar, including Nobel laureates Michael Spence and Edmund Phelps, US futurist and best-selling author John Naisbitt and Finnish designer Yrjo Sotamaa.


Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog