Worldwide headhunting new Chinese policy
The Chinese economic paradigm shift, oriented towards products and services with greater added value and internal consumption, requires special talents and abilities. China seeks qualified immigration by skill and advanced capabilities.
The Chinese macroeconomic model is changing and with it, migration policies. China does not want to attract any well-trained overseas person, but the best talented in the whole world. At least, so says a draft law that will take effect next month and that aims to lure a migration of excellence.
The key economic reforms in China were based upon opening up to foreign investment. In return, the country offered economic incentives and access to cheap labor. Thus, China promoted national industry and received from big companies the expertise, which later became an important base for their own national development.
In parallel to this process, Western immigrants came and acted as catalysts, like teachers of English and other languages, professionals and executives who could perform work for which the Chinese were not ready yet. The relaxation of Chinese visas made the migration process much easier than in other countries.
Immigrants in China are mostly people of average skills and usually hold positions of a relative degree of responsibility. They also earn a salary higher than average and the length of their stay in the country averages three years. Others are teachers, mostly in languages, math and in preparation for entrance exams at American and European universities.
This project is part of the concept of “Chinese dream” implemented by the new president, Xi Jinping, who seeks to lead the country to excellence. China now seeks to change its economic model based on scale production, low cost and little added value to one of innovation, creation, and high technology.
To move from Made in China to Designed in China, foreign excellence is in need. The process is already paying off in different sectors. In the automotive industry, the Chery brand won this year’s award for “Best Concept Car of the Year” with its Chery TX, at the fair in Geneva. Alibaba is one of the most profitable e-commerce companies worldwide. Huawei or Tencent are setting trends in technological development and telecommunications. Nevertheless, China does not want to stay in a few examples; to foster the globalization of Chinese companies, remarkable brains are still in need. China has launched campaigns to attract its brain drain, or “sea turtles”, as they call the Chinese that study abroad and do not return. The country also seeks to seduce foreign talents.
China wants to get other Chinese to reach the stature of the founders of Baidu, the leading search engine in China, Robin Li, who held a postgraduate at the University of Buffalo, and Eric Xu, who spent ten years at Berkeley. Or as Charles Zhang, Sohu founder, trained at the University of Massachusetts. Chinese ambition also extends to areas where research and development is a key component.
For these reasons, China will encourage skilled immigration with special visas, targeting experts recognized by their own governments and the professionals China needs urgently, so says the draft law that seeks to attract more than 2000 overseas professionals called “global experts.”
China seeks candidates with experience in leading multinational companies, experts in the fields of science and education, and personalities from the world of culture and sport.
Modern sociology wants to replace the term “brain drain” to “brain circulation”, both for Chinese and foreign minds. In this field, to turn the country into a talent receiver, competition is fierce.
The challenge will not be easy. China remains an exotic destination and problems such as pollution and the difficulty of the language can be a barrier. Or, perhaps, an opportunity, like any challenge.