China's huge market potential and favorable policies are attracting more and more Chinese students back home to start their innovative undertakings.
Figures from the Ministry of Education indicate that 172,800 such students had returned from 1978, when China started its opening-up policy, to the end of 2003. Last year, the number of the returnees reached a record high of 20,100, 12.3 percent over 2002.
"China boasts huge market potential, much development room and many opportunities, plus the government's preferential policies and aid, so many Chinese overseas scholars would choose to go back home to find success," said Nan Zhenqi, president of the Lanzhou Net Digital Technology Co., Ltd.
Nan said a company run by the returnee is quite likely to carry a yearly growth of 14 to 15 percent, compared with the average rate of around three percent by Western companies.
Both chances and market potential in China are great, which arouses much attention and interest among Chinese scholars still abroad, according to Nan, noting that meanwhile, the government's policies have become pragmatic in recent years, encouraging the returnees to initiate enterprises instead of simply sending many of them into research institutions.
"This practice have attracted many Chinese overseas scholars, including myself," said Nan.
Actually, governments at different levels across the country are offering preferential policies regarding residence and business registration, tax, land use, fund aid and other aspects. By the middle of 2003, the Education Ministry had helped a total of 10,487 returned overseas scholars with 340 million yuan (US$41.2 million).
In Shanghai, the number of enterprises started by the returnees has increased at the rate one per day since 2002, reaching more than 2,700 by late November 2003.
"Some software and integrated circuit enterprises started by a returnee could get free aid of 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) from the city government," said Mao Dali, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Personnel Bureau.
"The central government's 'free to come, free to go' policy has cleared many Chinese overseas scholars so they can stay or leave China according to their own will," said Nan.
In the past 25 years, the central government has released more than 400 legal documents to solve the various problems the returnees might face during their work in China.
Nowadays, the returnees are welcomed warmly by localities in different parts of the country.
"We do hope more returnees will come to Tibet for its development. The government will offer them best possible policies and material aid," said Liu Chengfu, a senior official with the Tibet autonomous regional government.
"China now has so far formed sound conditions for the returnees to exert their expertise, and the returnees have made significant contributions to China's economic development and social progress," said Chinese Personnel Minister Zhang Bailin, stressing that the returnee work was a necessary chain of the country's strategy of prospering the nation via means of professionals.
"There are so many commercial chances for overseas scholars. I believe that the returnees would be the group who first leads China onto the world stage," said Nan.
(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2004 )