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1,000 Talent Plan: hunt for foreign experts to boost innovation

China is aiming to rev up its high-tech industries, as wider economic growth has been stalling. Part of this drive is the 1,000 Talent Plan, a scheme set up by the Chinese government eight years ago. It aims to lure top notch talent from other countries to relocate to China in a bid to ignite the country’s innovation machine.

The program was launched in 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis, targeting full-time professors at foreign universities and R&D centers, who are under 55 years of age and want to work in China.

Professor Norman Beaulieu, working at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, has already got that expert certificate, and thinks the talent plan could facilitate the communication.

“You’re bringing top academics to China, and these people from other countries have a different perspective and perhaps a different way of doing things than they may be done in Asia,” said Beaulieu.

However it is not easy to headhunt those skilled professionals. The criteria are that recruits must have full professorships from prestigious institutions or senior roles in organizations.

Jason Wang, the managing partner of the global workforce company ManpowerGroup, says the tough criteria enhance the difficulty.

“Their criteria are very tough, such as the education background, at least a doctorate. Rounds and rounds of interviews, again and again. And finally we will negotiate the details with the talent,” said Wang.

Besides, an important question is to which degree the recruits will be able to boost China’s innovation industry.

Liang Hong, a chief economist at China International Capital Corporation, thinks the civil servants group is an important part. “In China specifically, it has to do with a lot of researchers, scientists. They are parts of the civil servants group. I think going forward, that part of the reforms will be much more important, in a few years we will see the reform dividends.

”China is currently running two recruitment programs for global experts: the Thousand Talents Program and the Thousand Youth Talents Program for Distinguished Young Scholars which kicked off in 2011. The 2016 Global Innovation Index showed that China joined the ranks of the world’s 25 most-innovative economies last year, rising from the 29th spot in 2015.