China New Expat Teacher Laws Explained part 2 – 7 jobs for expats

China New Expat Teacher Laws Explained part 2 – Part one is here.

5 Challenges Every Expats in China Faces

China New Expat Teacher Laws Explained

Every expat faces challenges in China, whether learning the language, living there for a short time, or raising a family. Now, while many of these challenges are standard to expats worldwide, some specific aspects of Chinese culture create issues that might not be present in other countries.

  • The food
  • Learning Mandarin and speaking Chinese
  • The pollution
  • Staying safe
  • Dining etiquette

The Food

Western expats in China often complain about eating Chinese food every day. I can tell you from experience that it isn’t all bad: there is a large variety, and much of it tastes great! However, some take issue with the fact that they cannot find ‘proper’ western food anywhere. To this, many Chinese people might reply, “You were the one who came to China; we didn’t ask you.”

What many expats do not realize is that restaurants serving ‘western’ food in China are often heavily adapted and sometimes entirely different dishes. For example, if you order spaghetti bolognaise in China, you might be served something else. Evidently, this is not spaghetti bolognaise. It may still be tasty, but it looks and tastes different. 

Learn Mandarin and Speaking Chinese

Learning the language of your host country is a very good idea for any expat, as well as their children if they are attending school there. In China, however, knowing some Mandarin is not enough. Whilst over 80% of all Chinese people can understand Mandarin, very few can speak English.

This means that unless you know how to ask for the bus number or where the toilets are in Chinese, you will struggle to communicate with locals and may end up feeling excluded from local life and culture.

The Pollution

China has some of the worst air pollutions in the world, with only a few cities being less polluted than Beijing. However, expats are not allowed to complain about this issue. Virtually everybody in China has grown up with it, so they’re used to it, and instead of complaining, people take preventative measures. For example, many will wear face masks when outside.

In addition, expats living in China need to be aware that the pollution is much worse outside than when at home. What might be light smog in your home country could well be a thick fog in China. This means you will struggle to see further than a few meters ahead of you and may find it difficult to breathe. Much like the food, it’s something new expats have to get used to.

Staying Safe

China New Expat Teacher Laws Explained

China is a very safe country for visitors and expats alike. Although petty crime does exist in Chinese cities, the threat of violent crime is rare, and arrests are usually made quickly after a crime has been committed.

Furthermore, China has a strict policy on guns and knives, and most people do not own them. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people work in cities across China without any fear of violence.

However, expats should still take precautions when they travel around China. The easiest thing to do is simply follow your instincts: if you get the feeling that someone is suspicious or wanting to cause trouble, then you should avoid them.

Just like anywhere else in the world, if somebody approaches you and asks for money or tries to convince you to get into a car with them, don’t do it! Expats should also take care when traveling outside of their city, as Chinese police are not keen on foreigners getting lost in their areas, and they will often not speak English.  

Dining Etiquette

Many expats feel like eating out in China is a hassle because of the lack of rules around dining etiquette. For example, it can be difficult to find cutlery when eating most Chinese dishes; instead, you are expected to use chopsticks. Furthermore, if you are eating with Chinese people and ask them to share some of their dishes, it is customary to agree, even if the food does not look appealing.

If you go to a western restaurant in China, expect things to be slightly different. Many will have English translations of traditional Chinese dishes, which you might not recognize, as many Chinese people simply don’t eat these dishes. Also, even though some items on the menu might be familiar such as spaghetti bolognaises and steak and chips, they may not taste or look like you expect them to!

Integrating into life in your host country is a big part of being an expat. Seeing new sights and visiting interesting places are a must, as well as experiencing different cultures and cuisine.

However, you should also be aware of local customs and procedures so that you do not offend people or inadvertently break the law. China has strict rules about what you can and cannot do in public, from smoking cigarettes on the street to being too close to monks at a temple. Expats should learn about the country’s customs to avoid getting into trouble while living in China.

7 Jobs for Expats in China Aside from Teaching

In China, as an expat, you have a lot of options to earn money and gain valuable experience. Before, there was always the opportunity for employment as an English teacher, but the new law has changed the whole process. However, if you’d love to live in China as an expat, other options are to look for. They include the following.

Freelance Writer

China New Expat Teacher Laws Explained

China is experiencing an awakening of its creative energies, which can be beneficial for companies seeking to commission freelance writing – or other types of creative work. For example, one expat in China has taken the opportunity (even while still working at a school) to write articles on culture and travel, which are very popular with visitors to the country.

The demand for original content is so high that this expat has reduced his hours at work and supplemented his income by working just a couple of days per week.


The fast-paced changes in China’s political system have led to many areas of potential growth, including for interpreters. An expat living in China with experience in a particular field, for example, finance or oil and gas, can supplement their income by interpreting at meetings between Chinese officials and businesspeople looking to expand their investments.


Expats seeking to make extra money while in China could consider starting up a small catering service. This can be particularly easy for those living in an apartment complex with their own kitchen. One expat has done this successfully by offering home-delivered dinners to residents of her apartment complex.

Tour Guide

China is a country that offers many types of tours, and hence the opportunity for expats to supplement their income by becoming tour guides. Expats in China interested in pursuing this opportunity should research what types of tours are most popular with tourists.

Software Engineer

China is well-known for its strong education system and hence the opportunities for software engineers. Many expats in China have combined their profession as software engineers with teaching part-time at a school by giving lessons in their spare time. This is convenient for them because they can earn extra money while simultaneously not giving up their day job.

Corporate Trainer

One advantage of living in China is the opportunities for expats to work alongside Chinese people in a professional environment. Consequently, there are excellent prospects for those with experience in corporate training from their home countries and wish to ply their trade abroad.

One expat has successfully pursued this opportunity by working at a multinational company delivering training courses.

Freelance Photographer

China is a country that has a rich history and an evolving culture. Consequently, there are many opportunities for freelance photographers in China to capture these images and sell them to local or international companies that wish to market their products abroad. One expat has been able to supplement her income while living in China.

General Conditions Required For a Foreigner to Work

A foreigner must:

  • have a bachelor’s degree and three years of relevant teaching experience, or an associate degree and two years of relevant teaching experience
  • Be able to produce verified transcripts from their home institution(s) showing that they meet these criteria
  • Possess a valid passport, or be able to produce an official photocopy of their passport (including the photo page and Chinese visas)
  • Possess a valid “Z” work visa before beginning employment;
  • Hold at least one Mainland state security clearance. This is not required for foreign citizens who are Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan residents, except for foreign teachers at private schools.
  • Have a clean police record from their home country and/or other countries where they have lived for a significant length of time.

FAQ about Expat Teacher’s Law in China

Can I live in China without a permit?

No, you cannot. According to China’s law, you must have a valid permit from the Public Security Bureau before living in China. That’s why, as an expat teacher, you should apply for a Z VISA as soon as possible before moving. If you already live in China, do not run away from the authorities! It may cause legal consequences to you and your family back home.

What kind of visa is a “Z” visa?

The “Z” visa allows foreigners to stay in China for work or study purposes or to visit family members. Z visa holders are permitted to take jobs with Chinese companies and enroll in regular academic programs.

Can I be penalized as an expat?

There are several risks for expats living in China. If you want to avoid any legal complications, it’s better if you contact our law firm. For example, one of the most common offenses is driving under the influence, which is considered an act of public endangerment.


With expats teachers being unable to work as a result of the new law in China, expats are struggling to find a solution. In fact, it’s considered illegal to teach English in China today. Nonetheless, if you’re considering teaching as an expat, it would be better to check other options stated above. Refer to this guide for more information.

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