Big Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai have unveiled policies that will encourage more foreign talent to work and even settle down in China. CCTV reporter tell us more about these changes, as the country continues to transform its economy and encourage innovation.
The world’s second largest economy is seeking new ways forward. The Chinese government hopes the country can thrive as a global innovation hub and sees foreign experts and entrepreneurs as a way of achieving this.
"China, actually was in last number of years, wants to transform from attracting financial capital, to attracting human capital; from population dividend, to talent dividend," said Wang Huiyao, President of Center for China & Globalization(CCG).
But high thresholds and lengthy application processes for work permits have put many foreigners off in the past.
"China benefits from talents, from international talent being here. China benefits from overseas Chinese that want to come home, maybe retire, maybe invest. So the government should have these policies to allow the free flow of people, of information, talent and technology and so forth,"
"That’s maybe the reason why you see these changes is that somebody is realizing that this is important economically for China as it continues to go through a transformation," said James Zimmerman, Chairman of Amcham China.
But things are changing. The central government -- along with the Beijing and Shanghai municipal governments -- are trying to provide better services for foreign experts, while allowing some to acquire their own residency permit, or "Green Card".
A pilot program will start in China’s silicon valley, Zhongguancun in Beijing.
"In the past if you apply for a green card, you need 6 months process, sometimes even longer, 9 to 12 months. Now the new regulation commits that it going to finish the application in 50 days. So it’s very fast,"
"And for the first time in the history in China, the Ministry of public Security is going to establish a permanent residence processing center in Zhongguancun. It’s the first green card application and processing center in Beijing. That has never happened in the past," said Wang.
But who can enjoy the fast-track green card application? Foreign members of start-up teams in the Zhongguancun area, and the foreign tech talent who are hired by firms in the area. Overseas Chinese with a PhD qualification or better, and overseas Chinese with long-term entrepreneurial plans.
To attract more young talent, companies in the Zhongguancun area can now hire foreign students, who even study abroad, as interns. Foreign students, who are studying in Beijing-based universities can start their own businesses in Zhongguancun.
Experts say the polices, if successful, can be and will be applied in other regions.
Foreign talents are the key to China’s economic development, as the country is transforming from a labor-intensive to a high-end industrial economy. The Center for China and Globalization did a research comparing the Zhongguancun area in Beijing with the Silicon valley in California. On the number of talents, there are about a million people working and living in both tech hubs.
Meanwhile, international talents account for almost 40 percent of all talents in the Silicon Valley while in Zhongguancun, international talents ONLY account for just one percent.
And among them are roughly 10,000 people overseas Chinese or Chinese with overseas work and education background. This means Beijing needs to speed up and work really hard to bridge the huge talent gap to make it a global innovation and tech hub.