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The Russians Are Coming: Expert Influx to NE China

In Suifenhe, a city in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the number of people crossing the Sino-Russian border rose to a record 1.2 million in 2004. Many are top-notch professionals from Russia, coming to seek opportunities in China's fast-growing economy.

Wan Xueyuan, head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), said that China plans to recruit more experts from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Wan was speaking at a meeting of specialists on foreign experts affairs held on Tuesday in Beijing.

Pointing to China's historical and geographical ties with CIS countries, Wan was optimistic about bringing in more top scientists from those countries.

SAFEA reports that in 2003, the largest numbers of professionals from abroad came from Japan, South Korea and the United States. Together they accounted for 62.4 percent of overall arrivals, while Russians accounted for only 4.7 percent.

However, 70 percent of the foreign experts working in Heilongjiang Province come from CIS countries, mainly from Russia, and some 85 percent of them hold doctorates.

"Russia is a treasure trove of top professionals. It has its own Silicon Valley, which turns out 70 percent of the new high technology in Russia," said Xu Hongguang, head of the Heilongjiang Foreign Experts Bureau. "The Russian experts in China are here not only to develop cutting-edge technology, but also to develop technology for civil use."

According to Xu, Heilongjiang will this year recruit more experts from Russia and Ukraine. They are expected to help with various matters such as setting up accident prevention systems in coal mines, developing local economies and treating eye diseases.

Liaoning Province has signed a contract with the Russian Academy of Sciences to establish a high-tech transfer center to digest hundreds of technological items from Russia, while Shenyang Engineering University has a cooperative arrangement with Tomskaya Polytechnic University.

"Many factors have contributed to the rise in incoming Russian experts, including China's booming manufacturing business and improved attitudes toward the employment of foreign experts," said Yuan Xudong, an official from the SAFEA.

(China Daily March 3, 2005)

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