May 13, 2008
Low-skilled workers from China are ubiquitous in Singapore these days: in the shiny new terminal of Changi Airport, in coffee shops, in shopping malls, in supermarkets, at gas stations, at construction sites and populating the much-loved open-air food courts called hawker centers.
They also make their presence felt in five-star hotels, where one recent encounter found a Mandarin-speaking maid who could not comprehend a word of English. Most recently, Singapore's two bus companies began hiring drivers from China.
Chinese workers are just one constituency in Singapore's fast-growing foreign population, but they are the largest component of an expatriate contingent that crossed the 1 million mark in October, helping boost the overall population to 4.68 million in an otherwise chronically aging society. Foreigners make up about one-third of the national workforce. The country set a goal to raise its population total to 6.5 million within two decades, rejuvenating itself mainly through immigration from India and China.
Recommended by Anonymous Coward: "Forbes on Singapore's Chinese labour influx."