Moreover, you have to already be in China to take advantage of these employment opportunities. Very few foreigners outside the country are eligible, or want to go through the hassle of returning to China at the moment.
Few employers will go to the trouble of trying to bring in a foreigner from abroad when there is a ready pool of foreign talent locally, not to mention that increasingly, China is looking towards its own talent pool rather than foreigners. This had already been the case long before anyone had ever heard of Covid.
I've noticed a few foreign researchers who've come to Kunming, but usually on short-term 6 month or 12 month postings. Rarely anything more permanent. Many are from SE Asian countries, not necessarily Europe or North America. My dad arranged one of his recently graduated PhD students from Thailand to do some post-doc research at Kunming University. This was a few years back.
In any case, I think it is quite clear that there are fewer foreigners in Kunming and China in general than pre-Covid.
It is not easy to move around right now, so even a Thai, Lao or Vietnamese person has to make the difficult decision to remain in China or go back home and possibly not be able to return to China for an extended period. Quarantines to enter SE Asian countries are very strict, and China is even stricter. Thailand ended it's free quarantine scheme for its nationals on July 1, so now everyone has to pay to return.
It doesn't look like China will be lifting it's quarantine scheme until July 2022 at the earliest. So that tells you how long the borders will still be closed for.
@DanDare, not sure about tons having remained. I'm almost certain tons have left, even if quite a few have stayed. Look around you, do you still see many westerners in Kunming? There were never that many to begin with, so I'm pretty sure the answer is no. There aren't many and almost certainly fewer than in 2019.
It's not about whether it's safe due to Covid, but about employment opportunities, having made the difficult decision to stay or to go back home.
Good to see the national government stepping in and once again re-iterating the voluntary nature of the vaccination rollout. China is in many ways a lot more reasonable than many so-called "democratic" countries like Italy and France, which plan to introduce vaccine passports for taking part in everyday non-essential activities soon.