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The disgrace of 'Chinese sea turtles'

Posted September. 19, 2017 07:36,   

Updated September. 19, 2017 08:37


Eric Zhang studied music technology at New York University and spent more than 1 million yuan on his overseas education. Even after going through 20 interviews in almost a year, Zhang failed to get a job. He stopped looking for jobs related to the music industry and, instead, he managed to find a job in a state-owned publishing company. This is an example of Chinese students struggling to find a job in China reported by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Many Chinese students who studied abroad say “Ah! Good old days.” Haigui, which means a Chinese who returns home after studying abroad, could easily land on a prestigious job in the past, but not anymore. Due to a soaring number of Chinese studying abroad and the soft job market in the wake of the economic downturn, a new term was coined – Haidai, meaning a jobless Haigui. Chinese people had envied Haidai, which sounds like sea turtles, but now, people laugh at them calling them Haidai, which sounds like seaweeds.

Out of 544,000 Chinese students went abroad for studying, 432,500 returned home. A survey found that 44.8 percent of Haigui start with a monthly salary of 6,000 yuan (about 1.04 million won) due to the large number of students who studied abroad. Though they are paid more than the average Chinese people who graduated from a graduate school (4,777 yuan per month) and the average Chinese college graduate (3,678 yuan), the compensation falls far short of their expectation given the money and energy that they spent. The bigger problem is that it is hard to find a job regardless of salary. Many Chinese who earned a Ph.D. abroad teach students in middle schools.

Japanese companies prefer locally educated people than those who studied abroad because many of the latter quit jobs easily due to the failure of adapting themselves to the Japanese corporate culture stressing seniority. Korean companies also do not welcome students who studied abroad. Young people struggling with seeking a job – regardless of where they studied -- seem to be a common problem across the world. The fact that a degree from other country does not guarantee a job could hopefully be some comforting news to young people in this country who lament about the grim reality.