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Xinhua Insight: China eyes alluring more overseas talent

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Xinhua Writers Cheng Zhuo and Mou Xu

BEIJING, June 5 (Xinhua) -- With new policies to attract high caliber people from abroad, China has clearly signaled an ambition to build itself into an international talent powerhouse.

More flexible and pragmatic permanent residence rules are on the way, and this easier Chinese "green card" regime, announced on Monday, has no purpose other than to pull in more skilled foreigners.

Zhao Leji, head of the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Tuesday invited overseas talent to join in the work for China's development.

THIRST FOR TALENT

"The objective is to build China into an innovative nation, and that requires an end to the old investment-driven pattern, and the beginning of a new system focused on knowledge and creativity. The power of talented individuals will certainly be a key element in this transformation," said Xiao Mingzheng, director of the Center for Human Resource Development and Management Research at Peking University.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, believes China has a talent deficit. Over past decades many Chinese students who studied overseas did not return home but sought opportunities abroad.

"Into the new century, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, China is encouraging both overseas students to return to China and foreign experts to come to China," Wang said.

"Recruiting talent has become equally important as attracting investment. Local economic growth today needs high-tech industries more than labor-intensive manufacturing," Chen Gang, head of Banan District in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality told Xinhua.

In the past few years, Banan has attracted several high-tech firms, but too often the companies have come against the same obstacle: absence of competent people, knowhow and expertise. In some cases it has hindered further investment.

Investment and talent often come hand-in-hand. Investors usually bring their own technical and managerial personnel to projects. "Favorable 'green card' policies' are not enough. If skilled people are going to come to China and stay for the long-term, they will demand high quality living and working conditions," Chen said.

Since the recruitment program for global experts, also known as the "Thousand Talents" program, began in 2008, a total of 4,180 foreign experts have come to China. Through this program or via authorities' recommendations, a total of 1,306 foreigners have so far been granted Chinese "green cards."

HEATED COMPETITION

Xiao was a member of the team that drafted the national talent development plan introduced in 2010 to help engineers, scientists, managers and other specialists climb to the upper reaches of the value chain.

According to Xiao's observations, global competition in the scramble for talent is nothing new. The competition has been intense for some time and China is performing better than most.

"Developed countries have their advantages in terms of good social and research environments and competitive pay," he said, "but I believe there are still great opportunities and huge room for capable people to develop in China. The country will become a magnet for talented people who aim high and really want to make accomplishments."

Globalization expert Wang said that according to a survey by his center, the promising career path and domestic market in China are considered to be major factors by over 60 percent of overseas Chinese students, but some factors, such as inconvenient exit-entry procedures and loopholes in personnel management systems, harm the country's efforts to attract talent, resulting in a reluctance of a number of top-notch overseas Chinese experts in some key sectors to return.

"Increasing investment and ensuring a fair environment for scientific research should be keystones to our progress in this regard," Wang said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140605/xinhua-insight-china-eyes-alluring-more-overseas-talent