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11 Jul, 2013

China Offering Grants to Lure Native Talent Back Home

By Zhao Xinying

Beijing, 2013-07-11, (China Daily) – China is offering financial grants and other benefits to boost its ability to lure top experts in science and engineering back home from posts overseas.

Zhan Wenlong, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said it is making full use of recruitment plans such as the One Hundred Talents Program and One Thousand Talents Program, which are aimed at attracting foreign and Chinese experts, to ensure candidates are provided with good scientific research facilities and living conditions.

“For those selected through these programs, we pay them 2 million yuan ($326,000) as a startup fund and 600,000 yuan for resettlement, making their research and living conditions as good as they are abroad,” he said.

The academy has so far attracted 2,493 Chinese returnees since the One Hundred Talents Program was first launched in 1994.

Pan Shilie, assistant director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in Xinjiang is one of them.

As a postdoctoral researcher in physics and chemistry at Northwest University in the United States, Pan had a chance to be a faculty member in a US university. But he chose to return to China in 2007, as he believed that career development would be better with support from the government.

“In the US, the level of development in my research field is high, but in Xinjiang there is still a gap waiting to be filled, and I can contribute more there,” Pan said.

With funding provided by the academy, Pan set up a laboratory and research team in Urumqi, the region’s capital. “The equipment and instruments are just as good as what I used abroad, and it feels good to work in my own country,” he said, adding he has a sense of belonging that he lacked abroad.

Apart from providing good conditions for scientific research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences also works on guaranteeing basic living conditions.

Deng Maicun, secretary-general of the academy, said in addition to the settlement allowance, the academy has the 3H Project, which aims to relieve overseas experts’ housing and health concerns and give them a feeling of being at home.

Deng said the project allows most of the overseas experts who work in the academy to buy homes, helps to enroll their children in school, and ensures medical insurance covers most expenses if they get sick.

Chen Yu’ao, who was selected for the One Thousand Talents Program and returned with a PhD from Germany’s University of Heidelberg in 2011, said with the settlement fee offered by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, as well as the University of Science and Technology of China, where he now works as a professor, he is able to pay half of his housing loan.

The 32-year-old, who is also a researcher with a physics lab in Shanghai, said compared with most people his age, he is lucky because the mortgage is not heavy, so he can concentrate on scientific research.

“My major concern for now is to make my lab a world-class one,” he said.

It is the same for Pan. With his whole family settled in Urumqi after they bought a house and his 7-year-old child being admitted by a primary school, Pan said he had nothing to worry about except his research.

“The government and the academy have spent so much money and put so much effort into us and our labs, we have to work hard to make it worth it,” he added.

Jiang Mengyun contributed to this story.