Libmonster ID: CN-1226


Saint Petersburg State University


Keywords: China, universities, higher education, scientists, programs for foreign researchers

An important condition for the successful integration of Chinese universities into the global market of educational services is the presence of a strong teaching staff. That is why the Government pays so much attention to the return of foreign graduates and teachers to China. For scientists who have returned to their homeland, a favorable environment is created that promotes the realization of their potential. They hold prestigious positions in the country's educational institutions. As China continues to grow economically and become more competitive in the international arena, the Chinese Government is investing heavily in this process.

After Deng Xiaoping decided in 1978 to send the best students and researchers to study abroad, a huge number of Chinese went to universities in other countries - mainly in the United States. Over 20 years, from the late 1970s to 2010, more than 1.9 million people went abroad to study through three channels-state, departmental and at their own expense.1

However, in the last decade, China has experienced a wave of returning these specialists back to their homeland. Between 1978 and 2010, 632.2 thousand students returned to China, most of them in the last few years2The number of returning graduates is growing every year: in 2010 - 135 thousand, in 2011-186.2 thousand. 3 These specialists are usually separated into a separate group - they are called "sea turtles".

The current situation is a consequence of the fact that the PRC has gradually but timely created a regulatory and institutional framework that has contributed to the implementation of the government's policy of studying the best students abroad. Thus, in 1999, Guidelines on Intermediary services for students traveling abroad to study at their own expense were published, and in 2002, an Organization for Monitoring Studies Abroad was established, which improved the monitoring of this process.

In 2001. Zhu Rongji, then Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, said at a meeting of the World Forum of Chinese Entrepreneurs that China in the new century will focus on attracting human capital and technology from abroad rather than monetary investments.4 A number of measures have been taken as part of this course. In 2002, such restrictions as the need for persons with diplomas of the main and short-term departments of higher education institutions to work for their own state for 5 years after graduation were removed. For specialists leaving for internships with such diplomas, the provision on compensation of expenses for their education was canceled. In 2003, the State scholarship fund was established for the best students who go abroad to study at their own expense.

In 2003, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council at a joint conference approved a strategy to strengthen China through human capital. In 2004, Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, speaking at the national conference on human resources, called for focusing as much financial resources as possible on three key areas of improving the quality of the workforce: educating and recruiting talented personnel, and improving their performance. 5 As a result, the Government of the People's Republic of China has formulated a policy to support students ' studies abroad, encourage their return to their homeland, and ensure their freedom of entry and exit.6

However, since the start of sending students abroad, Chinese authorities have expressed concern that many students and researchers remain working abroad. In the mid-1980s, an agreement was even signed between China and the United States that students sent abroad at the expense of the state or an educational institution must return to their homeland.7 But after the Tiananmen Square events (June 4, 1989), the US government issued an Act to protect Chinese students, which resulted in about 50 thousand students and scientists from China receiving a residence permit in the United States. A similar status was also given to 10 thousand people. There are 8 Chinese students in Canada and more than 20 thousand in Australia.

Despite concerns about a "brain drain", the Chinese government continues to encourage university students to go abroad. First, China is trying to make up for lost time during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when the Chinese education system was isolated from the international academic community. Secondly, the Chinese authorities tend to view brain drain as a temporary phenomenon and hope for the effectiveness of their policy to attract talented specialists - Chinese and foreigners - to the PRC. In addition, many foreign universities themselves are interested in Chinese students returning to their homeland after their studies and taking up high positions, because

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this is largely a guarantee of the good attitude of future Chinese elites towards the country where they studied.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China show that in 2011, 339.7 thousand Chinese students studied abroad - 19.32% more than in the previous year. The vast majority of them study at foreign universities at their own expense, while the state, departments and enterprises allocate funds for training the rest.


The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China carries out the following activities that promote the return of Chinese students and teachers from abroad, as well as attract foreign professors and researchers to cooperate:

1. In 1990, a start-up Capital Fund was established for conducting research after returning to the homeland of students studying abroad, the purpose of which was to promote research in the scientific and technological sphere. By 2009, the fund provided 10.9 thousand scientists with financial assistance totaling $ 350 million. RMB (about $58 million)9.

2. In 1993, the "Talent Training Program for the Twenty - first Century" was adopted, which aims to support outstanding young teachers who have returned from studying abroad. From 1993 to 2009, 922 people received more than 180 million yuan (about $30 million)in support under the program10.

3. The Spring Sun program, adopted in 1996, provides support to students and researchers who have returned from abroad and want to work in their homeland. They are assisted in job search, research and teaching activities. In addition, accommodation, medical insurance and flight expenses are compensated. From 1996 to 2008, according to the Ministry of Education, 123 thousand people received grants under this project.11

4. The Yangtze Program was initiated by the Ministry of Education in 1998 with financial support from Hong Kong philanthropist Lee Kashin. This project involves the support of young scientists who have studied abroad, and also provides for the invitation of foreign scientists to China as special professors or to give lectures. Participants in this program are paid an annual salary of 1 million yuan ($167,000).12.

At the first stage of the Yangtze Program, the Ministry of Education opened about 500 special professorial vacancies. Each professor who became a fellow of the program received an annual salary of 100 thousand yuan (about $16.6 thousand). Between 1998 and 2003, 537 people with study or work experience abroad participated in the program13. In addition, Li Kashin established a prize awarded annually to outstanding scientists: 1 million yuan ($167 thousand) for the first place and 500 thousand yuan (about $83 thousand) for three other prize - winners.

5. In December 2003, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued a document, "Decision to further strengthen talent Promotion", which stated that if China wants to transform itself from a country with a large population to a country with efficient human resources, it is necessary to attract these resources, including from abroad. Paragraph 7 of this document emphasized the need to create favorable conditions, including solving problems of accommodation, health care, and employment of family members.14 As a result, China has developed a system of support for returning and foreign scientists, which provides assistance in finding employment, organizing their delivery to their place of work, helping them set up their own businesses and providing information on investment opportunities, and obtaining start-up capital for conducting scientific research.

6. After the State Council of the People's Republic of China approved the "Plan of medium - and long-term scientific and technological development for the period 2006-2020", the Ministry of Education in 2007 proposed a program aimed at intensifying work on attracting "sea turtles". This project was intended to attract:

- recognized international leaders in specific scientific fields who have gathered a team of innovators under their leadership;

- researchers who have the potential and opportunity to make breakthrough discoveries and become outstanding academic leaders;

- young researchers who can improve the quality of university science and teaching.

7. In 2008, the "1000 Talents" plan was adopted at the national level, aimed at supporting outstanding scientists and entrepreneurs working in the field of innovative technologies, innovators who can make breakthrough discoveries.

Applicants for the 1000 Talents program must have a PhD from an outstanding foreign university, be at least 55 years old, and be prepared to work in China for at least 6 months of the year. The benefits they receive under the program include permanent resident status and a multiple-entry visa issued for a period of 2 to 5 years. Moreover, the employer must provide the spouses of researchers with jobs and ensure that their children are enrolled in the best 15 schools.

Program participants can freely choose their host city. They receive a one-time subsidy of 1 million yuan ($167,000). As additional bonuses and payments, they are guaranteed medical and social insurance, allowances for food and utility bills. Their salary should not be lower than what they receive at their previous place of work abroad. The Ministry of Labor Resources and Social Protection of the People's Republic of China has created special service centers that simplify all necessary procedures.

As for the promotion of higher education institutions, a university that hires on a part-time basis

page 50

or a full-time researcher participating in the 1000 Talents program, receives 12 million yuan ($2 million). The rector of the university has the right to distribute them among all faculties, which makes attracting project candidates beneficial for the entire educational institution, and not just for an individual faculty.16

8. In addition, two similar programs were launched in 2010: "1000 young talents", which aims to attract more than 2 thousand researchers under the age of 40 by 2015, and" 1000 foreign talents", which targets outstanding foreign scientists, engineers and managers from developed countries. They are also subject to high demands. They must have an academic degree from a well-known university, have work experience in leading universities, research centers or corporations. The beneficiaries of the program should be researchers in the scientific fields that China is most interested in developing. As a rule, the emphasis in the selection of candidates is placed on the technological sphere 17.

9. Since 2011, the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China has announced a new stage of the "Yangtze Program", under which professors from both China and abroad, if they work at a Chinese university, will be paid an annual bonus of 2 million yuan ($333,000)for 5 years.18. Those researchers who will serve as the head of the department will receive a monthly bonus of 30 thousand yuan ($5 thousand)under the program. 19 In addition, each university regularly pays professors a salary and offers benefits, the list of which is determined by the university itself.

All these programs are implemented in practice by leading universities in China, which are included in the list of "Project 985" initiated by Jiang Zemin in 1998 and aimed at bringing several leading universities of the country to the world level. Other Chinese institutions followed the leaders ' example. In order to achieve their goals and become world-class universities, these universities formulated their own development strategies at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Realizing that they are lagging behind world-class universities, Chinese universities have developed the idea of a leap forward that involves breaking traditional paradigms and reaching new heights, relying not only on investment, equipment and advanced infrastructure, but also on developing new management concepts and attracting outstanding researchers. Peking University and Tsinghua Metropolitan University have offered a huge number of incentives and initiatives to become an attractive job site for international scientists.

Tsinghua University is implementing its own "Top 100 Talents" program, which aims to attract a large number of outstanding researchers from abroad and from China itself. To support this program, the university has created a fund of 200 million yuan (about $33 million). In addition, the university has launched a project according to which 100 scientists from abroad are invited for a certain period of time to give lectures, as well as a program to send 100 university teachers abroad for further training and other personnel exchange programs 20The university invites well-known foreign professors to give lectures and teach. For example, John L. Thornton (former president of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., a leading investment bank) became director of Tsinghua's global leadership program. He teaches a regular course for graduate students of the university.

Thus, these programs provide a large-scale influx of highly qualified personnel from abroad to China. For example, in 2004. Wang Xiaodong, a professor of biochemistry who worked at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, became director of the Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Beijing. Wang Xiaodong is the first Chinese-born scientist to be elected a member of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

As part of the 1000 Talents program, prominent scientists who are not ethnic Chinese were also invited to work in Chinese universities. Among them is Robert Glenn Parker, a professor at the University of Michigan. He is currently the dean of the institute, which was created on the basis of Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the University of Michigan.

To date, most of the professors of leading Chinese universities have studied or have experience working in foreign universities. Chen Jili and Zhou Ji, former Ministers of Education, studied in the United States in the 1980s.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education at the end of 2003, 84% of all academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 75% of members of the Academy of Engineering, 62% of research supervisors of undergraduates in universities directly subordinate to the Ministry, 77% of university rectors, 47% of heads of higher professional colleges and faculties received education abroad.21


Despite the obvious success of the PRC in attracting talented scientists from abroad, there are a number of serious problems in this matter. First of all, such policies lead to the deepening of inequality between China's coastal regions and the rest of the country. Returning scientists usually choose large cities in the east of the country as their place of work. In order to receive financial support for the above-mentioned projects, some local governments awarded prizes to scientists who returned to China before the start of these programs. Thus, within the framework of the 1000 Talents project, the government of the large city of Guangzhou (in southern China) issued 6 awards in 2009 and 20 in 2010, despite the fact that all those awarded returned to their homeland before the start of the project.22 Thus, for the sake of their own finances-

page 51

However, some authorities used falsifications that distorted the statistics of returns.

One of the serious problems is a rather high level of corruption and an extensive network of personal connections, which reduces the efficiency of allocating program resources. But perhaps the most serious problem is that while the Chinese government has spared no expense in talent return programs, the competence of many returnees may raise doubts among analysts.

According to research by David Zweig, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, few returning scientists are comparable in international reputation to those who stayed abroad. Mostly researchers with a PhD or PhD degree do not return. There are even fewer repatriates who hold patents for innovative developments. 23 It seems that the best of the best prefer to stay where they already have their own research team, have a highly paid position, and are guaranteed academic freedom.

Zweig's research conducted in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in 2004 also showed that only a few researchers who returned to China held high-level positions and received salaries comparable to those they had at foreign universities. It is worth noting that, despite the high salaries, the programs listed above are supposed to be hired for a certain period of time, and not for a permanent position. Thus, for foreign scientists who have a permanent position in prestigious foreign universities, this program is not interesting.

In China's education sector, one can also observe the phenomenon of "internal brain drain", when talents who have returned from abroad leave this area for business and start their own companies in China-this has a positive effect on the country's economy as a whole, but does not serve the purpose of improving the quality of university science.

* * *

In our opinion, it is still premature to say that China has managed to turn the flow of "brain drain" in the opposite direction, despite the increased efforts of the authorities in this direction. The most talented researchers, who have many career opportunities both in China and abroad, are more likely to prefer a country where academic freedom is not constrained by ideological constraints. In addition, many initiatives to attract scientists from abroad are negated by corruption.

Nevertheless, the results of China's efforts to attract talented researchers from abroad are clear. In a short period of time, the Government, local governments, and individual universities have been able to use a variety of incentives to encourage Chinese students and academics to return home.

China does not deter, but rather encourages, those who want to go abroad to study. Thus, the PRC is trying to make up for the lack of personnel in those areas of the economy, the development of which is currently a priority. By attracting talented researchers to work in the country's universities, the Chinese government has two goals: improving the quality of university science and creating world-class universities.

1 Numbers of Chinese Students Studying Abroad and Returned Home Both Increased in 2010 // Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. 14.03.2011 -

Zweig D. 2 To return or not to return? Politics vs. Economics in China's brain drain // Studies in Comparative International Development. Spring 1997, N 1, p. 92 - 125.

3 Zhongguo luoxue fu zhongxin zhubai (Service Center for Chinese Students Abroad) -

Rongji Z. 4 Proud of Chinese Economy // Chinese informational Internet Center. September 2001 -

5 Speech of Hu Jintao at the National Conference on Human Resources / / Website of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. 19.12.2003 -

6 The Overall Situation of Studying Abroad // Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of" China. 17.09.2009 ' -

Li C. 7 Bringing China's best and brightest back home regional disparities and political tensions // China Leadership Monitor. July 30, 2004, N 11, p. 3.

Zweig D. 8 Op. cit., p. 92 - 125.

9 The Overall Situation of Studying Abroad...

10 Ibidem.

11 Development of the Opening up of China's Education and International Students Studying in China. Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, 25.03.2009 -

12 Changjiang xuezhe jiangli jihua (Yangtze River Scholarship Program) -

13 Ibid.

14 Zhongyang 16 hao wenjian (Central Document N 16) / / Website of Chongqing Transport University -

15 Qianren jihua jieshao (1000 Talents Plan) / / 1000 Talents Program website -

16 Ibidem.

17 How do I apply? // Website of the 1000 Talents program -

18 Xindae "Changjiang xuezhe jianli jihua" xiangmu jiang (Project of the Yangtze Scholarship Program) / / Website of the Yangtze Program -

19 Ibid.

20 100 Top Talents Program // Tsinghua university -

Mansheng Ch 20 China's entry into the international educational services market and prospects for Sino-Russian cooperation // Russia-China: Obrazovatel'nye reformy na rubezhe XX-XXI vv.: Sravnitel'nyi analiz [Educational reforms at the turn of the XX-XXI centuries: A comparative analysis]. educational institutions, Central Academy of Pedagogical Research. China, 2007, p. 450.

Zweig D. 22 Can China Bring Back the Best? The Communist Party Organizes China's Search for Talent // Center on China's Transnational Relation Working Paper. March, 2012, p. 21 - 00Talent.mar2012_Chin.Quarterly.pdf

Zweig D. 23 Is China a Magnet for Global Talent? // Far Eastern Economic Review. 2006, N 169 (6), p. 41.


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