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Discovering Xiamen
Special> China International Fair For Investment & Trade> Discovering Xiamen
UPDATED: August 10, 2009 NO. 2 JAN. 13, 1986
Xiamen Spirals to Special Goals

Talent-scouting, the Xiamen way

Socialist China lacks the capital and talent it needs in order to crank up its drive for modernization. This is also true with the Xiamen SEZ. To make up for the deficiency, the municipal government has been emphasizing two capital construction programmes - the building of infrastructural facilities geared to attract foreign investment, and the speeding up of training for as many employees as possible.

Settled in the 100-year-old city of Xiamen, the SEZ has several hundred old enterprises. Although its large numbers of universities, colleges and secondary professional and technical schools are churning out many graduates, they cannot meet the city's needs either in number or quality. The municipal government has therefore decided to "unearth" and train local people, while also bringing in others from outside the city.

Tapping local potential

Large numbers of younger, more talented and dedicated intellectuals have been promoted to leadership positions in the last few years to meet the anticipated economic take-off in the special zone, according to a spokesman of the Organization Department of the Xiamen Municipal Party Committee. In the same period, the local authorities have also redressed previous unjust cases. The major changes the local authorities have made during this period include the following:

Readjustment in leadership

Before 1983, the leadership of the municipal government was composed of 13 people, whose average age was around 57 years old; only three of them had had any further education after senior middle school. The readjusted leading body is now reduced to 10 persons, averaging 50 years old, with the youngest, a deputy mayor, 32 years old. They include seven with college and university education and three with senior middle school education, who are specialists in certain fields. For example, Deputy Mayor Ye Shuliang is a senior electronics engineer who has been in charge of Xiamen's electronics industry since 1984. Familiar with the foreign electronics market and Xiamen's needs, Ye is able to personally negotiate with foreign businessmen over the stipulations and signing of contracts.

Leading management bureaus and key companies and enterprises under the municipal government also have been readjusted. The average age of the leadership of the city's 18 key enterprises has dropped from 54 years old to about 47, and the proportion of those leaders with senior middle school education or higher stands at 81 percent.

Advertisement for employment

Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of Sino-foreign joint ventures set up in the Xiamen SEZ. This calls for a swift increase of talent in the city. The municipal government has reformed the employment system, replacing the practice of state assignment with advertising employment opportunities. This change has helped lift the square-peg-in-round-hole syndrome.

The bulk of the Chinese managers involved in the 88 Sino-foreign joint ventures in Xiamen were employed through advertisement after they had taken written and oral exams. It is stipulated by the municipal government that their salaries and bonuses shall be determined by the enterprises for which they work, in accordance with private contracts. This practice breaks away from the long-standing practice of egalitarianism in distribution and of "only promotion and no demotion" for cadres.

Outsiders absorbed

Absorbing talent from outside of Xiamen was an important measure adopted during the reform of the employment system. In the past, the flow of talent from the outside met with many restrictions. For example, those who had lived apart from their spouses for fewer than 10 years, and those whose aging parents living outside of Xiamen but had been taken care of were faced with stringent requirements in order to get their spouses or parents transferred to work or live in Xiamen.

In 1984 the Personnel Exchange and Consultation Service Centre was organized to recruit outside talent. For those who want to transfer to work in Xiamen, the centre provides a shortcut. From 1980 to 1983, only 800 people moved to work in Xiamen. Those figures soared to 987 in 1984 and 1,400 (including some 100 assistant engineers) in 1985. These new employees have become the backbone of the economic construction in Xiamen.

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