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Can China Bring Back the Best? The Communist Party Organizes China's Search for Talent*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2013

David Zweig*
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Huiyao Wang
Center for China and Globalization, Beijing.
Email: (corresponding author).


For some developing countries, the international flow of their human talent in the recent decade was more of a “reverse brain gain” than a “brain drain.” China, too, joined the group of states whose students, after studying abroad, now found sufficient opportunity and an acceptable quality of life back home to make returning after graduation a reasonable option. Still, China had not succeeded in bringing back the very best scientists and academics. To remedy this problem, the Organization Department of the Chinese Communist Party became actively involved in the recruitment process. The key programme was the “1000 Talents” Plan, introduced in 2008 by Politburo member Li Yuanchao, who had a visionary perspective on reverse migration. This programme has succeeded in bringing back entrepreneurs full time; but it has not attracted the very best of the Chinese scientists and academics who studied and lived overseas to return fulltime.

Copyright © The China Quarterly 2013 

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Research assistance was provided by Sam Sun.


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