Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 10 News List

China fever is subsiding

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

China fever appears to be waning after a report by 104 Job Bank Corp (104人力銀行) showed that the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China has dampened job seekers' interest in that nation.

The report said falling interest in China is spurred by SARS fears. "Since the outbreak of SARS, especially serious in China, China job seekers have been frightened away."

Hits on the company's China employment opportunities site have slid from 13,000 in January to 12,000 last month.

Another market analyst from 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行) agreed, but said the go-west fever began losing momentum back in 2000.

"White-collar staff and people with experience in China are losing interest in working there," Wayne Shiah (夏瑋), spokesman for 1111 Job Bank said yesterday.

The number of China-bound Taiwanese has dropped by 30 percent annually from 2000, Shiah said. For example, there were 46,000 job hunters interested in working in China last April, but that number fell to 32,500 last month, he said.

One reason for the decline is skilled competitors from around the world are flowing into China, squeezing out Taiwanese talent, Shiah said. That competition has also driven down salaries offered to Taiwanese workers, reducing the incentive for them to work in China, Shiah said.

In addition, market demand has switched from general technical staff to management-level executives.

However, the apparent fading of China fever is only temporary according to the head of 104 Job Bank.

"In the long term, China's affluent resources and market will not only lure Taiwanese workers, but also talent from around the world," general manager Rocky Yang (楊基寬) said, "I haven't seen any signs the fever is cooling."

Yang said Taiwanese working in China would become a regular phenomenon and "one of the standard job choices" in the near future.

"Our database shows that six out of 100 job hunters are interested in entering the Chinese job market," Yang noted.

Chang Fu-mei (張福美), chairman of the Society for Promoting Taiwanese Business in Shanghai (台灣上海台商聯誼促進會), said many Taiwan businesspeople working in China had already returned home to avoid SARS transmission, but they are still confident in China's business potential.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's youth appear keen to chase their dreams across the Taiwan Strait.

"Many young people are still eager to work in China regardless of the SARS epidemic," Chang said.

And despite declining opportunities and salary, students still show a strong interest in entering that market.

"I'd like to get a job in China after graduating," said Hsu En-cheng (許恩誠), a sophmore in the Mechanical Engineering Department at National Taipei University of Technology (台北科技大學). "It's an irresistible trend."

Another student at the university majoring in Material & Mineral Resources Engineering, Lo Cheng-yu (羅振宇), also expressed his ambition to work in a country where the economy is growing.

"I'll try to look for a job in China even if the pay is lower," Lo said. "With work experience in China, it'll be easier to advance to a higher position in a company hierarchy when I return to Taiwan."

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