The Ministry of Education (MOE) will continue to support overseas study, while simultaneously encouraging more Chinese students to return home, Vice-Minister of Education Zhou Ji said Monday.
Zhou said the nation is in great need of overseas students who can contribute to the country's economic and social development, particularly in the light of China's commitment to building a xiaokang society - one that is moderately well-off, both socially and economically.
According to MOE's latest statistics, the number of Chinese, who studied abroad between 1978 and the end of last year, reached 580,000, of whom more than 150,000 have returned home.
Of the 430,000 who are still abroad, over 270,000 are continuing their studies at universities or institutes of higher learning.
Last year 18,000 overseas students returned to China, 47 percent up on 2001.
The ministry will maintain the principle of supporting overseas studies, encouraging the return of overseas Chinese students, and lifting restrictions on their coming and going, said Zhou.
He made the remarks at a concert for returned overseas students, held yesterday in Beijing and jointly organized by the ministry and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Zhou said those students who had returned have made an invaluable contribution to achievements in China since the reform and opening up began more than two decades ago.
He said the ministry intends to hold various activities in June to award those outstanding returned overseas students.
They have helped the country's economic and social development by bringing with them the advanced technologies and management experience skills learnt abroad, a spokesman of the ministry said.
They have also helped enhance the interchange and cooperation between China and other nations in the fields of science and technology, education, culture, economy and trade.
Statistics show the number of returned overseas students accounts for a big percentage of the total number of people working in education and scientific research.
For example, 81 percent of the members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and 54 percent of the members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering are returned overseas students.
Currently, across the country there are more than 60 start-up business parks for returned overseas students, while those who have returned have gone on to establish over 5,000 companies, which boast an annual output value of 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion).
(China Daily January 28, 2003)