I have previously lived in Shanghai for 2 years. We are likely moving back at the end of the year and I have a few questions:
1) Do they still require expats to go to that medical clinic and get checked-out before they allow the visa. The one where you have to drive out of the city and they do chest x-rays and TB checks, etc.
2) How was the pollution last winter? I have looked at the AQI, but wanted to hear first hand. I have a young child and this concerns me.
3) How is the VPN situation? Does the government still shut it off when every they feel like it?
Thanks in advance!
It seems that in order to get a work permit in China expats do need to undergo a health examination and an authorised medical centre. Our guide to work permits for China has more detailed information on this process.
When did you last live in the city? While air pollution in Shanghai was at its worst in 2013, the AQI measurements show a steady improvement in the last five years. That being said, the city does still suffer from moderate levels of air pollution so it is something to be aware of.
Not sure of what kind of visa/permit you are arriving on, but as in my case last year and also that of friends who arrived this May, the work visa/residence permit process remains as difficult and convoluted as ever, if not worsening. Unless you qualify under the current 'scientific expert' categories preferred by the present government, most companies will have you arrive now on a tourist visa, then apply for a work permit (yes, subject to medicals at pre-authorized clinics) which they then convert into a residence permit. Process is taking anything from 6 weeks to 4 months depending on qualification & industry (and I am not considering high school pass-out backpackers but mature professionals of various fields), but this is my experience. Also, again depending on your line of work, if your employer is not the owner of the organization sponsoring your visa (i.e. International management company is separate from Chinese ownership company), be ready to be terminated without cause at will. My organization alone lost about 10 expat executives in the last 10-12 months, with little that could be done from the management's perspective. So sincere suggestion: find out in black & white the intricacies of your contract, exact document requirements, process and time parameters (your employer may change their story every other week because they themselves can't be sure) before you quit your existing job/book flights.
VPN & overall control on all international media such as BBC/CNN etc. remains strictly censored. While we have not had a total VPN blackout in the last 16 months, speed & connectivity has been intermittent at best.
However, not all is doom & gloom - air quality has been remarkably good (for China) since I have been here from early 2017. The extreme hot & cold days with cloudy wet weather are on the rise, but March-May still remains absolutely gorgeous in Shanghai.
Hope this helps & good luck!