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More expats needed
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China has a growing need for foreign professionals in a range of disciplines to help it achieve its development goals, a top official said yesterday.

Ji Yunshi, director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), said the administration this year will focus on introducing foreign expertise to improve people's lives, especially those in rural areas.

More advanced planting and breeding technologies will be brought in from abroad to enhance the production of grain, milk, pigs and edible oil to safeguard food supplies and curb price hikes, Ji said.

"We need to introduce more top-level scientists, industrial technology leaders and scholars from abroad to provide the latest technical breakthroughs and management experiences to China," Ji said at the national foreign expert affairs conference in Beijing.

There is an urgent need for foreign expertise in many fields, including agriculture, energy-saving and new energy technologies, finance, trade, law and management, he said.

A large number of foreign experts have come to China in recent years, becoming involved with numerous projects that have been implemented in the western and rural areas of the country.

In the past five years, the mainland attracted 1.25 million foreign professionals and 750,000 professionals from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, according to official figures.

The government has also sent 150,000 officials and professionals abroad for training, the figures show.

The authorities have promised to introduce more measures and regulations, as well as preferential policies, to better protect the rights of professionals with foreign expertise and to upgrade services to create a comfortable working and living environment for expatriates.

"The country has benefited greatly from the introduction of talented foreigners in the past several years, with 144 areas showcasing the results," Ding Juming, director of the Shandong foreign experts bureau, said.

Shandong province tops the list for introducing the greatest number of people and projects with foreign expertise.

A total of 82,000 professionals have worked in the province.

In addition, more than 11,000 locals have been sent abroad for training.

The province has spent more than 70 million yuan ($9.6 million) on talent-exchange projects.

"International talent exchange has helped us sharpen our competitive edge and boost our own innovative ability," Ding said.

He referred to the case of Dezhou-based Himin Solar Energy Group.

With the help of foreign expertise, the company developed a patented photo-thermal technique.

It is now the world's leading manufacturer of solar water heaters, he said.

(China Daily January 11, 2008)

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