For the third time in a row, Shanghai has topped the list of most attractive Chinese cities for expats, according to a survey released today, China Daily reports. Other cities that ranked (in order) were Beijing, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Xiamen, and Kunming.

The survey was organized by the International Talent magazine, in cooperation with the China Society for Research on International Professional Personnel Exchange and Development, who recruited nearly 20,000 foreign professionals to take part in the survey between July and December last year.

Participants ranked the cities according to four indexes, which included policies for foreign professionals, working environment, and living environment.

Data for expat populations throughout China is scarce. According to China Briefing, there were 209,000 foreigners living in Shanghai in 2010, compared to 107,000 in Beijing. Data is likely to be much higher (with no official data available past 2012 as of now) as these numbers only include residents officially living here on a residence permit.

For expats worldwide, an HSBC survey last year indicated that China was the most popular destination, with Germany ranking second and Singapore ranking third. The survey included employment packages and experiences with regards to bringing up children.

However, we recently reported that foreigners are starting to leave China more frequently than they are arriving, with double the amount of expatriate families leaving. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang feels the pressure, as he aims to encourage foreign families to stay in China, and promises to provide opportunities for families to show their talents.

And since we're ranking things, let's not forget Beijing's short stint early last month as the world's fourth most romantic city before it dropped to one of the least.

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