Welcome Yan Ning back to China, and wish her success: Global Times editorial
Published: Nov 02, 2022 10:39 PM
Photo shows Chinese structural biologist Yan Ning. (Screenshot Photo)

Photo shows Chinese structural biologist Yan Ning. (Screenshot Photo)

Biologist Yan Ning announced that she will leave the US and return to China. Her announcement, made on Tuesday, aroused lasting attention and discussion. Yan Ning said she will resign from Princeton University and join the establishment of Shenzhen Medical Academy of Research and Translation (SMART) in Shenzhen. She called her return to China her "third dream" — after the joint efforts of several generations, Shenzhen will occupy an important place in the global biomedicine field in 10 or 20 years. She also hopes to "create a platform to support more outstanding scholars" and "make truly original breakthroughs."

This is Yan's "second return to China." For the domestic public, Yan Ning's reputation has long transcended scientists' circle, and is well known by the public. Yan Ning, known as the "Goddess scientists," is a person who "doesn't take the usual path." She became Tsinghua's "youngest doctoral supervisor" in 2007. Ten years later in 2017, she accepted an invitation from Princeton University to be appointed as the Shirley M. Tilghman Professor of Molecular Biology and was elected as academician of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. A series of extraordinary experiences have made Yan a focus of public opinion many times.

For a scientist, it is normal and reasonable to choose the most suitable research environment to achieve innovation and breakthroughs in the professional field. We believe that Yan Ning has her own reasons for making various choices at different stages of her life, which should be respected. China's policy regarding talent always stresses "free movement." Some people made a fuss about Yan's teaching abroad five years ago, but this exactly shows the openness and tolerance of China as a big country.

China has always insisted on "gathering talent from all over the world and utilizing them." It creates an environment where talent are recognized, respected and used, and the opening toward talent from abroad has been continuously broadened. In recent years, more and more overseas Chinese scientists have chosen to return home. In 2021, more than 1,400 Chinese scientists gave up their jobs in US academic institutions or companies and returned to China, a 22-percent increase from the previous year. There are also many top scholars who came to China from Britain, Japan and other countries. The reason why talent "return" is that they are attracted by China's overall environment that encourages innovation. When the soil is more fertile and the sunshine is more abundant, the vitality displayed by the whole forest is naturally more vigorous. 

At the same time, the research environment in the field of innovation in the US is deteriorating. According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, "an increasingly hostile political and racial environment" is one of the reasons that drive a growing number of Chinese American scientists and engineers to give up their positions at top US universities and return to China or elsewhere. Washington's wrong policy decision to push decoupling with China has forced itself into certain kind of vicious cycle. The huge uncertainty of its policy and the chilling effect triggered by malicious investigating and suppressing Chinese scholars have made more and more scientists feel uneasy. 

The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China pointed out that China will move faster to build world hubs for talent and innovation. It can be expected that the Chinese society will further promote a good atmosphere to encourage and tolerate bold innovation. More talent willingly choosing to return to China shows that China's environment is attractive to talent in many ways. This is a mutual choice. The country which supports innovation and provides opportunities for talent to realize their ideals will be a good stage. Just like Yan Ning's reason for choosing to go to Shenzhen: "Shenzhen is young and vibrant, and there are infinite possibilities." In the new era, China's more active, open and effective talent-related policy will definitely attract more talent, reach higher innovation standard and make more dreams come true. 

Finally, we welcome Yan Ning back to China, and also welcome high-end talent from all over the world, and wish them success.