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The Homecoming
Special> The Homecoming
UPDATED: March 7, 2009
All Roads Lead to Home
Along with China's brisk pace of economic construction, great hopes have been placed in these returnees to help modernize their motherland

In today's world, there are some essential elements that make up a nation's lasting strengths and prosperity. The commonly recognized elements may include abundant capital, solid industrial bases, strategic energy and raw materials, a high level of science and technological development and, above all, talented human capitals. Of all the resources that a country can rely upon to maintain its development, talented individuals are the most vital ones.

China also looks at talented people as a principal source of its economic development and social progress, especially since it initiated reform and opening up in the late 1970s. The country also has sent some 1.2 million of its brightest young men and women to study abroad during the past three decades. More than 300,000 of them had returned to China by the end of last year, and this number is growing at an annual 13 percent, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.

Generally speaking, returned students and scholars are endowed with an exceptional advantage: Having studied, worked and lived mostly in developed nations, many of them have become skilled in a wide range of academic disciplines, and their overseas experiences also have helped broaden their outlooks. Therefore, they are often treated like gold, not only because they are well-versed in advanced technologies, but also because of their familiarity with the market economy.

Along with China's brisk pace of economic construction, great hopes have been placed in these returnees to help modernize their motherland. As more and more of them have opted to pursue their careers back home, China has become a huge arena to fully exhibit their talents and serve their own country. To date, many of these talented individuals have been charged with important responsibilities. Statistics show that they now account for 72 percent of the research group leaders of the country's key science and technology projects; 67 percent of the principal awardees of national natural science awards; 81 percent and 54 percent, respectively, of the members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering; and two thirds of tutors of doctoral candidates in China's universities and research institutes. Many more of them have decided to set up their own ventures. Take Zhongguancun, a tiny hi-tech business district in Beijing. In this so-called Chinese Silicon Valley, there are now more than 3,400 startups run by some 8,000 entrepreneurs with overseas educational backgrounds.

Just a decade or so ago, many Chinese intellectuals abroad still preferred to stay in their adopted homes since they believed it was a better option for their lives and careers. Things have changed now with China's rapid economic and social development, more liberal and flexible policies, improved living standards, as well as more business opportunities. This, coupled with more favorable conditions provided by the government, is expected to bring a tidal wave of overseas Chinese talents back home.

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