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Chinese Students Return from Abroad to Success and Failure

Growing numbers of Chinese students are returning home after completing tertiary education abroad, hoping for bright careers with their diplomas -- but many end up disappointed.

Many of those returnees set up businesses, especially in the high-tech sector, and some are successful. However, most are not so lucky as their expectations are too high and they are uninformed of developments around them.

Li Yanhong returned home after obtaining his master's degree at State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1999, he started his own search engine company called Baidu in the national capital of Beijing, which proved to be a success, growing from two staff to the present 200.

Some attribute Baidu's success to Li's overseas education, but Li said the essential factor lies in real personal ability rather than qualifications.

"We only take a person's ability into account when recruiting staff, regardless of whether they are a Harvard doctor or a Stanford MBA," he said.

Pan Chongyu, vice-president of China's first network safety company Venus Information Tech, advised, "Never be too anxious for instant success. It is the advanced technology that helped us survive the fierce competitions since the company was established."

Zhongguancun, a Beijing-based high-tech park popularly known as “China’s Silicon Valley", has attracted around 5,000 returned students who have set up nearly 2,000 businesses.

However, the survival rate of these businesses is less than 20 percent, and the situation is no better nationwide as the rate stands at just 22 percent.

Doctor Hu Ming, who once worked in Canada's Bell Laboratories, returned China this year and established a company after developing an advanced video server software system that is applicable in hotels and residential areas with intelligent facilities. But the system made little profit in the marketing sector because, he said, of a failure to differentiate between domestic and foreign markets.

"Returned students have advanced ideas and expertise learned abroad, but only when they apply what they have learned to China’s environment can they succeed," said Mo Xiaokang, general manager of digital technology company Northern Star.
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2003)

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