Displacement of European researchers in China

Categories: News

Tags: Researchers' Mobility

Results of Follow-up Survey in China

In July, it had been three months since the borders were closed and there was no sign of researchers being allowed to return. To confirm the scale of the problem, EURAXESS China conducted a new comprehensive survey trying to update our information about the state of EU-China Researcher Mobility – as it had obviously changed drastically since 2019, when our last comprehensive survey took place.


EURAXESS China teamed up with Mikkel Rønnow Mouritzen, who is a PhD student at Roskilde University in Denmark working on the topic of transnational talent mobility between Europe and China, on designing the survey. To collect responses, EURAXESS China received the support of the German Academic Exchange Centre DAAD, The Association of Italian Scholars in China AAIIC, The Spanish Network of Researchers in China RICE, The Holland Science Network, and the French Embassy in China. A third of the answers came directly through the EURAXESS network. In total, 99 European researchers based in China answered the survey.

In addition to background information and general questions related to mobility, the main portion of the survey focused on the displacement and other impacts related to COVID-19. The survey showed that 60% of the researchers were outside China when the borders closed. This number is made up of the different nationalities, research fields and career stages.

Three months after the borders were closed, 90% of the participants had still not found a way to return, exemptions were not being issued by the authorities.

Normalisation since then

On 10 August, it was announced that those that hold valid resident permits were allowed to apply for a one-time business visa to return to China, where on arrival their residence permit would be restored. From 28 September, the next step was taken by the Chinese government and it seems that European researchers with valid working permits and residence permits that expired during the time of the closed borders were allowed to apply for visas to return, thus restoring their residence status in China. See more information about the process in the next article.