Still, some enterprising foreigners have managed to become rich and successful in the country.
Five of them even made it onto the annual Hurun China Rich List, which has been ranking the countrys wealthiest people since 1999.
Here are their stories, in descending order from rich to super rich:
8. Grant Horsfield, 42 (310 Million USD)
Born in South Africa, Horsfield came to China in 2006, originally hoping to build a trading company.
But Horsfield quickly realized that Chinese urbanites didnt need South African products but more relaxed, natural lifestyles which he knew inherently well by growing up on a farm.
He built a boutique retreat in the bamboo fields of Mount Mogan, in Chinas eastern province of Zhejiang, catering to busy people looking for quality getaways.
7. Filip Sedic, 47 (400 Million USD)
A Bosnian-born Swede, Sedic lives in Shanghai. He first found success at LELO, a startup making high-end sex toys. One of its smart vibrators can set you back $15,000.
In 2013, Sedic ventured into cosmetics and beauty products with a company called Foreo. Its vibrating facial brush, called Luna, is a favorite of beauty bloggers.
Foreo made the top-selling facial brushes in China in 2017 and 2018, according to Cosmopolitan China.
Instead of buying ads in fashion magazines, Luna is mainly marketed by online influencers with massive followings on Chinese social media platforms such as Xiaohongshu.
6. John Oyler, 51 (1 Billion USD)
The Pittsburgh native came to Beijing in 2005. Five years later, Oyler started BeiGene, now listed on the Nasdaq, making and testing cancer drugs in the world's second-largest drug market.
What China has is the beginning of a very powerful industry, Oyler told the South China Morning Post in 2017. Its not a surprise that so much brilliant talent is coming back from the US or Europe.
In May, China's State Council issued a healthcare reform directive which included the speeding up of the regulatory approval process for cancer drugs.
Before coming to Beijing, Oyler worked as a consultant at McKinsey and as an executive at oncology firm Genta.
5. Koh Tuck Lye (1 Billion USD)
A venture capitalist, founder of Shunwei Capital and Beijing Resident, originally from Singapore. He invested in Xiaomi, Patsnap, iSpace and other IoT projects. Currently, he sits on the Xiaomi board of directors.