The large-scale emigration of Chinese people with technical skills or knowledge has been costing China dearly. Two experts discuss what is being done and what more should be done to curb this process.
Lin Jun: Attracting talent from abroad
These are the fiercest of times in the competition for talent. China's rapid economic growth has seen the number of Chinese returning from overseas grow in recent years, starting a new chapter in their lives as well as the country's history.
With the great changes that have taken place in the global economic pattern, the competition among countries has shifted toward emerging strategic industries and talented people. The economy of a country that has a large number of world-class scientists and technicians can be more innovative than the others that don't.
China has been implementing a strategy of developing the country through science, technology and education. It has been trying to reinvigorate its strength by taking measures to keep homegrown prodigies, as well as attract Chinese talent settled abroad. To this effect, the government has issued the Medium and Long-term Talent Development Plan (2010-2020).
Overseas talent comprises a special resources group that can propel China's modernization drive. Since the reform and opening-up, talented people who have returned to the motherland have gradually become the mainstay in almost all walks of life. Statistics show that from 1978 to the end of 2009, the number of students studying abroad had reached about 1.6 million, among whom nearly 500,000 chose to restart their career after returning to China by 2009.
The number of overseas-returned Chinese exceeded 100,000 for the first time in 2009. About 81 percent of the researchers in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 54 percent of the academics in the Chinese Academy of Engineering and 72 percent of the chief scientists in 863 programs studied abroad and returned home to make great contributions in their fields.
For the past decade, the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and the Beijing federation of Chinese returnees have been holding many activities for talented people to better serve the country. In cooperation with provincial federations, the national federation has helped more than 400 overseas scholars conduct research and set up more than 600 high-tech projects for programs such as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, go-west campaign and the building of a new socialist countryside. It has also helped them sign more than 100 cooperation projects.
With the implementation of the talent development plan and policies, which promote scientific and technological innovation and start-ups, the nationwide environment for entrepreneurship is becoming more favorable for all-around economic development. China has become a fertile ground for all types of talent, from both home and abroad, where they can give full play to their abilities, ideas and business acumen.
Steps to keep talent at home and encouraging high-tech experts to return to China and start their career is one of the most important aspects of the country's plan of reinvigorating the strength of the nation. This conforms to the requirements to build an innovation-oriented economy. The All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese will continue to hold activities for exchange of innovative ideas for overseas-returned high-tech experts and encourage innovative working mechanisms.
Overseas Chinese and people of Chinese origin have made great contributions to the Chinese revolution and nation-building process. Today, they are an important force advancing the country's economic development, and scientific and technological progress.
China has entered a key period of building a well-off society and achieving sound and rapid economic and social development. The national federation will create more favorable conditions for Chinese returnees, and continue to encourage and guide them to participate in the socialist modernization drive.
The federation will also promote technological innovation to accelerate the pace of the country's scientific and technological progress, as well as economic development.
The author is chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese. The article first appeared in the overseas edition of the People's Daily.