China is aiming to attract more expatriates to start businesses in the country, amid efforts to lure international talent and entrepreneurship, a senior official said on Jan 27.
Authorities will continue to introduce policy incentives in different areas to support overseas talent, including funding, workspaces and consultation on business startups.
The move is expected to diversify channels for China’s global talent recruiting program and attract professionals in different fields to devote themselves to the country’s economic and social development.
The policy decision comes as many Chinese are being encouraged to start businesses as the country aims to become more innovation-driven.
This follows the success stories of companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, whose market capitalization has reached more than $250 billion.
Zhang Jianguo, director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said that a shortage of scientists and top talent in technology and the service industry has affected China’s innovation capability and competitiveness.
“We have to focus on the nation’s strategic goals and attract high-level talent to start innovative businesses in China,” Zhang said.
He said the talent-recruiting program had been driven mainly by different levels of government and had become outdated.
“In the future, the model will be more market-orientated and driven mainly by demand and employers’ development priorities, Zhang added.
In 2013, Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, launched China’s first plan to accelerate the arrival of innovative overseas talent.
The Fuzhou Bureau of Foreign Experts Affairs provides free workspaces for startup companies and funds for outstanding startup programs.
Help is provided with related paperwork and meetings arranged with potential partners, such as venture capital firms. Ten startup companies have settled in the city under this plan.
Lan Zhen, head of the bureau, said, “Fuzhou has advantages in cooperation with Taiwan and abundant resources in returned overseas students, but these are not enough.
“Attracting overseas talent to start businesses in China is new, and we are not sure how it will develop.”
Lan said that to date the results have been good and have attracted attention from other provinces. Last year, 13 groups of officials from provinces including Hunan, Guangdong, Anhui and Shandong visited Fuzhou to see how the plan is working.
Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank in Beijing, said that despite the small percentage of overseas talent recruited in China, overseas startups will provide impetus for the country’s innovation efforts and economic growth.
“Take Suzhou in Jiangsu province for example. It has a program to attract returned Chinese who have studied or worked overseas to start businesses at home,” Wang said. “The outcome has been so good that Suzhou has extended the program to expatriates in China.
“China has missed the opportunity to attract multinationals to the country as the engine for innovation. Now, with individual innovation booming, China can take advantage of this trend to leverage its development.”