China has underlined its commitment to nurturing top-level professionals in its bid to become a knowledge-based economy.
The information technology, biotechnology, banking, corporate management and foreign trade sectors will all benefit from the new procedures, which were announced ahead of a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting starting in Beijing tomorrow.
The meeting is the first high-level gathering in which the 21 APEC member economies will discuss cooperation in human resources.
Minister of Personnel Zhang Xuezhong told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Saturday that more investment will be put into creating lab infrastructures and research facilities, and cutting red tape on venture start-ups and operations.
Zhang outlined further reforms in Chinese personnel policies as a response to complaints about the rigid household registration system, the red tape and the fact that in many cases salaries are linked with seniority rather than ability.
The household registration system means people can only work where their residents permits are valid, preventing a free flow of labor. "Such policies have stood in the way of a fluid transfer of skill where it is needed, and they should be further revised to benefit professional people," said Zhang.
Now some Chinese cities are piloting schemes whereby people qualified to a certain level can come and work even without a resident's permit there.
Official statistics indicate there are 60.8 million professionals in the country working in a wide variety of sectors, with technical professionals and engineers numbering 38.8 million.
But Zhang said there was still a severe lack of high-level professionals in information technology and biotechnology, the key sectors vital for the new economy.
China is also in need of skilled professionals to help restructure its industry and put into practice its plans to develop the western regions to prepare for global competition after China joins the World Trade Organization, Zhang said.
Efforts are being stepped up.
The country has focused on developing professionals educated to doctorate level who can head research into advanced technology in areas such as biotechnology, astronautics, nuclear science and modern agriculture.
He admitted that China was increasingly feeling the heat from a global battle to woo the best workers.
"Competition for skilled workers in the global scene is heating up as economies scramble for incentives to woo top people to contribute to their economic strength, and this puts pressure on China," said Zhang.
But the minister said overseas Chinese students are increasingly returning to China to pursue their careers as incentives expand and China's rapid economic advances strengthen their faith in rosy career opportunities at home.
Since 1978, more than 330,000 people have left China to study abroad and 110,000, or a third, have returned. "The number of overseas students returning is growing every year. This is very encouraging because they can bring back advanced technology and ideas that China urgently needs," said Zhang.
(China Daily 05/14/2001)