China should open up to more foreign talent

By Hu Bengang Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/2 23:53:09

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


At a discussion with foreign experts in Shanghai in May 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that "the Chinese nation has the fine tradition of respecting and cherishing talent. Now we need to open a wider road for inviting talent worldwide than at any time in history. A more open policy for talent should be adopted," according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To achieve the Chinese dream of building a moderately prosperous society and realizing national rejuvenation, we need further participation of international talent. Apart from utilizing foreign resources in terms of minerals, capital, technology and equipment, we also need the resources of talent.

As has been shown by the US' history of development, the country's leading position in the world can be attributed to its open policy of absorbing human resources on a global scale. To catch up with advanced economies like the US, the need to attract international talent, not merely limited to overseas Chinese, is becoming more urgent considering China's industries are saturated with lower-end supply but lacking high-end supply. As long as we can guarantee a win-win situation in which China can benefit from foreign expertise in various fields in the building and development of China and foreign workers in China can realize their personal fulfillment, our country should consider providing the relevant opportunities.

Take one case for example. A renowned European company, acquired by a Chinese auto enterprise years ago, one of China's top 500, started to turn profits in recent years. But problems have occurred when it comes to introducing foreign expertise and facilitating international exchange. The issuance of residence permits and work visas in China are subject to those below the age of 60. However in foreign countries, people do not retire at 60, and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ran for president around 70. Seasoned overseas professionals are in their 60s, and in this respect, the age limit for relevant permits should not be confined to 60, but should adopt a broader range.

In addition, we need to consider lowering China's education threshold for bringing in foreign talent. For instance, craftsmanship has been vital for a large number of Chinese companies. Bearings manufactured overseas can run smoothly for tens of thousands of hours, while a similar product made at home can only operate for a substantially shorter period of time - a situation that can impact the running of our major equipment and creates a big gap China has with other manufacturing powers in the accumulation of a slew of similarly small gaps. Although many workers from Germany and other European countries only have a diploma in advanced vocational education, their craftsmanship are rare and China is in need of their expertise.

Furthermore, we need to open a "green channel" to provide availability for senior executives and core technicians from foreign companies acquired by Chinese firms to work in and establish cooperation with China. Instead of being dragged down by redundant procedures in applying for and renewing work visas and residence permits, the process should be simplified and the validity of such permits are advised to be extended to four years.

China needs to embrace a global vision and expand its external demand in terms of external investment as well as external purchases and sales for the sustainable development of the Chinese economy. Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are in need of a more globalized China to provide further convenience for them. Europe also hopes for an even more globalized China to share in a piece of the nation's huge domestic market. And infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road initiative and President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan are expected to boost other countries' infrastructure sector as well.

In this respect, we should seize new opportunities brought by changes in the global landscape in industries, business, trade and infrastructure, and push to attract more foreign talent for more frequent communication and exchanges in technology, so that the Chinese economy can pursue a more sustainable development and so China and other countries can achieve a mutually beneficial situation.

The author is counselor of China's State Council and an invited senior research fellow with the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank.


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