Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Keeping China's Best and Brightest at Home

This was a recent article on the Asia Times Website, by Kent Ewing, which describes the outflow of Chinese talent to other countries who never return to China. He shows that this leaves a talent shortage within China for all companies.

As Western countries worry over China's rise on the international stage, they hold a key advantage in the competition for power and influence: many of China's best and brightest go abroad for a university education, enjoy their lives in the West, and never return home to share their knowledge and expertise with the motherland.

A recent study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the nation's top think-tank, shows that China is losing more first-rate minds to the West than any other country in the world. The phenomenon amounts to a new form of colonialism in which Western countries exploit intellectual talent rather than raw materials.

China is not the only victim of this international form of brain-picking, but it tops the list. More than 70% of the Chinese students who go abroad to study don't return home, according to the study. Of the 1.06 million Chinese who have traveled overseas to study since 1978, CASS found that only 275,000 have returned.

And despite torrid economic growth of nearly 10% for the past three decades, the problem does not seem to be getting any better. In 2005, 118,500 students left China for study abroad. By 2010, 200,000 are expected to enroll in foreign universities.

All told, according to CASS, the Chinese diaspora holds 35 million people scattered in more than 150 countries, making China the world's largest source of emigrants.

Yang Xiaojing, one of the authors of the study, was pleased by the international competitiveness of Chinese students but worried about the country's future if the brain drain continues.

"This shows that Chinese students overseas, especially those with extraordinary abilities, are a real hit in the global tug-of-war for talent," he told the state-run China Daily. "While strictly controlling the inflow of foreign labor to protect the interests of [their] domestic workforce, most developed countries spare no effort to attract the best talent from around the world."

Yang added this warning: "Against a backdrop of economic globalization, an excessive brain drain will inevitably threaten the human-resources security and eventually the national economic and social security of any country."

To view the entire article at its original location click on the title of this post.

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