How China’s worsening economic woes are shattering the dreams of its top graduate students

He Huifeng:

Hiring freezes and job cuts suggest a worse than expected employment outlook in China for the hi-tech and finance sectors. Photo: AFP

But in December, things took an unexpected turn. The company he had agreed to work for, Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, told him that due to a change in the company’s recruitment plans, the job offer was invalidated. Mindray, China’s largest medical equipment maker, said it would give Tan 5,000 yuan (US$727), roughly a third of what would have been his salary for one month, as compensation.

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The change has thrown Tan’s life into chaos, coming as the “campus recruitment season” winds down and China’s economic health continues its recent downward trend.

“I chose Mindray because I wanted to work as a researcher for an innovative firm, and that’s why I turned down all other job offers,” Tan said. “Now I have to start again … I had rarely thought about the economic downturn before, but now I guess I am one of its victims.”

Tan is not the only graduate student caught off guard.

Eric Li had accepted a job offer from Mindray with a starting annual income of 200,000 yuan. When he too was told the offer had been withdrawn, he said his dreams were shattered.

“I had planned to make good use of the money to buy milk powder for my nephew every month,” Li said. “I had planned to save 120,000 yuan a year to prepare for my marriage to my girlfriend.

“And I dreamed of the day when I could afford a down payment on a small flat in Shenzhen,” he said. “That’s now all vanished.”