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Government Opens Door to Returning Students
Liu Yuelun holds a British doctoral degree and serves as deputy director on the Development Zone Management Committee of Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province.

After returning from the U.K. in 1993, Liu chose to launch his career in government rather than the commercial world or starting his own business.

Liu is not alone among haiguipai -- Chinese who get degrees overseas, then return to the homeland -- in seeking fortune in political circles. Li Yuguang, deputy mayor of Foshan City, and Zheng Liping, mayor of Yunfu, both also in Guangdong, have the same foreign educational background.

In Guangdong, recruiting haiguipai is only part of its ambitious personnel reform efforts.

Luo Dongkai, deputy head of the provincial personnel department, told Xinhua that as well as haiguipai, government posts would be open to other top candidates including talented people from private enterprises.

The personnel reforms in Chinese government are still at a fledgling stage. Liu said he hoped the experiment would see more top people from all walks of life serving in government.

Forty years ago, any overseas link would cost a Chinese dearly and no one liked to even mention that he or she had any foreign relations.

However, a more open China has seen the benefits of globalization, particularly in terms of skills. Selecting and promoting government officials from the ranks of Chinese with a foreign education background have become popular in the country.

The northern industrial province of Liaoning opened 42 provincial government posts to haiguipai last July. The recruited officials will serve a three-year term and their family members enjoy preferential policies to settle in the province.

The open offer attracted some 120 haiguipai and in less than a year, Liaoning extended the offer to similarly skilled people to join its county-level governments in a bid to align the province to the country's World Trade Organization commitments.

According to Liu, returned students from overseas are familiar with the situation outside China and their managerial techniques are up to international level.

"With the advantage of knowing the world and our connections overseas, we're a bridge between the skilled people from China and outside world," according to Liu.

Xu Songtao, former vice minister of personnel, said a set of policies concerning the recruitment of returned students from overseas into government positions was currently under review and would soon be released.

In fact, the practice was once observed as far back as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when China's father of railways Zhan Tianyou was one of the nation's first Yale University graduates.

In the 1920s, the Communist Party of China included a large number of returned students from France and the former Soviet Union. China's late leader Deng Xiaoping once studied in France.

(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2003)

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