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Bored with the blockade, many people are thinking of leaving Shanghai

Many financial personnel in the city of Shanghai are considering returning to Hong Kong or moving to other major financial centers outside of China after only a short time living and working here. This decision was made in the context of the epidemic blockade orders that have significantly affected their business activities as well as their daily lives.

Thousands of bankers, tellers and investors in the financial “capital” of the world’s No. 2 economy are being “imprisoned” in their own homes. Many of them still have difficulty in purchasing food and essential goods for daily life.

The blockade order, up to now, has lasted for a full month, greatly affecting their lives and business activities. Some transactions had to be postponed because of logistical bottlenecks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“What is happening in Shanghai is beyond imagination,” said Melvyn Xu, an individual stock investor who moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai in late 2020.

Xu is looking forward to the time when the travel restrictions across the border are lifted, and is considering sending the children back to Hong Kong to continue their studies. He now sees Shanghai as just a “place to work”.

“I think the biggest frustration is that there is nothing you can do to help change the situation (blockade order). With the people living here, they have almost no bargaining power,” he said.

Bored with the blockade, many people plan to leave Shanghai - Photo 1.

Medical staff on a street in Shanghai, China. Photo: Reuters.

This migration trend will have a significant impact on the ambition to become a regional financial center, an ideal destination for many investment banks, insurance companies, wealth management funds, which have emerged. more and more in this city in the past few years, after China opened up the financial sector.

The rapid development of the financial sector in Shanghai has persuaded many banks, trading companies and investment funds to move from Hong Kong to the city, in order to get closer to customers and accumulate money. gain experience when working in a completely new environment and in high value transactions.

But that dream “soon to bloom, soon to fade”.

“When the blockade order ends, many foreigners will look for career opportunities in a country other than China,” said Jason Tan, director of human resources company REForce.

Many financial industry personnel share deep concerns about extreme epidemic prevention measures in China, Tan shared. “It won’t be good if the current situation persists… Lockdown orders can be re-imposed many times. And the next time will probably be longer and more rigorous than the last time.”

The biggest challenge for bankers in Shanghai is the due diligence process when their clients intend to list on the stock exchange or conduct a M&A deal.

“We had to go to their factory to evaluate many aspects. We can’t do it online,” said a foreign banker who was transferred to Shanghai in February.

A fund manager in Shanghai said that the blockade, at least in the short term, has fundamentally changed the business environment in the city.

“Shanghai is China’s major industrial and financial center, operating like a machine. But no changes were made to help that machine work smoothly, although many people complained on social networks, “the manager said.

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