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Switzerland

The 'Bubble' Of Elite Expat Life In Switzerland

Some Swiss are questioning the parallel lifestyle of rich and highly skilled migrants, some of whom come for tax breaks. The foreign residents are often set apart, for good, in their choice of schools. Can this be remedied?

Living the high life on Lake Zurich (krusenstern)
Living the high life on Lake Zurich (krusenstern)
Anne Fournier

ZURICH - It's 7:30 a.m. when a private school bus stops in front of the entrance to a luxury apartment building constructed in Zurich's old Hürlimann brewery. Mothers buckle in their kids. They say "Bye bye!" and the children are brought to one of the region's private - and naturally, Anglophone - schools.

German-speaking Switzerland is increasingly worried about what is seen as a growing cluster of highly skilled foreign expats, increasingly living in a bubble. It manifests in large part by the snubbing of one of the essential institutions that enables social relations to flourish: public schools. In Zoug, a county famed for its fiscal advantages, city vice-president Andreas Bossard says 80% of expatriates aren't involved in local city life despite attempts to reach out with aperitifs, gifts and tax information services.

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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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