Chen Jian, a rail transit development research fellow at the National University of Singapore, wants to return to China to make his fortune.
Chen attended the 14th Conference on Overseas Chinese Pioneering and Developing in China this week in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province. The Conference is an annual event for overseas Chinese to exchange business ideas and projects.
“My expertise on building information modeling will come to its own if I move back to China, given the rail transit boom,” Chen said. He launched his own engineering consultancy in Singapore in 2012, but has yet to make much money.
Chen is not the only gold digger planning return. A huge domestic market and favorable packages in terms of medicare, insurance, housing and taxation have made China an attractive destination.
In 2013 about 354,000 Chinese students returned from overseas after graduation, up 29.5 percent. Some optimists even suggest that within five years the regular exodus of students could become an influx of graduates.
The gradual reverse of the brain drain comes as China switches from an economy based on investment to a more balanced economy driven by consumption and innovation.
The somewhat awkwardly named “Thousand Talents” program was launched six years ago, and has for far recruited over 4,000 foreign experts. Overseas Chinese returning home ar eligible for the program. On Wednesday in Wuhan, 68 recruitment projects were agreed on, 11 more than last year.
“Global competition for talent has escalated. There is general agreement in China of the importance of talent, since attracting investment is simply not enough,” said Sun Xueyu, a Communist Party of China official.
Inconvenient exit-entry procedures, loopholes in personnel management systems and pollution are not helping the effort and until these problems are solved, it will be an uphill battle in the global talent war.
“I believe China can keep growing,” Chen said, “As long as we improve things, business opportunities in China are not to be missed.”