Seeking Dreams in China
According to the Report on China International Migration (2018)(hereafter c a l l e d t he mi g r a t ion report), China has become a source of outbound immigration to destinations of international immigration with improved governance mechanisms. The number of inbound foreign immigrants is continuously growing. China ranks third in terms of the best place to live for foreign immigrants, only after Switzerland and Singapore. China even surpassed the U. S. and Japan in that ranking.
Wang Huiyao, main editor of the report and director of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), said that since China started to implement the opening-up policy in 1978, the Chinese social and economic environment has steadily been improving. The implementation of the strategy to reinvigorating China through human resource development, and a series of plans and policies of introducing foreign talent, have stimulated a reverse brain drain of unprecedented scale in recent years. The crucial point that facilitates such largescale reverse brain drain is the innovation of China's immigration policies.
China is attracting more international talent back
According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Report 2017, China ranks second in the world in terms of being the best place for career development. Foreign talent migrating to China enjoy advantages in career development as well as income.
Asia is an ideal migration destination for foreigners. The number of foreigners living in this region with an annual income of more than USD 250,000 is triple that of Europe. China is the best Asian country for foreign people, and the number of foreigners with an annual income surpassing USD 250,000 is quadruple the world average. About 70% of 27,500 foreign interviewees said that China provides wonderful working opportunities.
As Europe is facing a refugee crisis and the U.S. Trump administration is tightening visa and immigration policies, a large number of international talent is flocking to emerging countries like China, making China an important country for inbound immigrants. In terms of employment prospects, China is deemed the perfect place for developing careers compared to other countries in East Asia and around the world.
The new book from the National Immigration Bureau shows that economic globalization and technological development has facilitated international immigration in the 21st century, and had a deep impact. For example, the type of immigrants have become more diversified, and the government has encouraged the introduction of high-end talent and limited the number of illegal immigrants. Temporary immigrants, two-way immigrants and circulatory immigrants have grown in numbers.
Meanwhile, the number of returning immigrants and circular immigrants is increasing. For developing and emerging countries, return immigration and circular immigration will not only bring back capital income, but also business and technology resources. For developed countries, these immi- grants will help companies to develop their international markets and upgrade industry and technology. Chinese economic development and policies to support immigration have attracted foreign immigrants back. By August 2017, China has attracted 7,018 experts who fall under the “Thousand People Plan”. Also, the number of returned overseas students has reached a new high, from 9,121 in 2000 to 432,500 in 2016, up by almost 47 times.
The book also pointed out that as the Chinese economy develops and its industry upgrades, China needs more and more high-end talent from all over the world. It will continue to attract international immigrant in order to achieve this.
The human resource mechanism needs improving to raise competitiveness
The immigration report shows that from 2008 to 2017, the Chinese “Thousand People Plan” has attracted more than 7,000 experts. Under this program, China has attracted 53,900 people who fall in the category of highend talent or overseas students. China's fist-tier cities have attracted professional talent in various sectors.
Meanwhile, data shows that about 850,000 foreign citizens are living in China. According to UN statistics, the international immigrants living in China only account for 0.04% of the world, while in developed countries the percentage is about 10%. The report issued by the International Immigration Organization shows that although the number of foreign people is growing fast in Beijing and Shanghai, it still lags
behind that of many international cities aroundthe world.
The procedures for living, working and investing when related to foreign citizens are very complex in China, and certificates all require approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Public Safety Bureau, the Foreign Expert Bureau, the Office of Foreign Affairs, the Human Resources Bureau and the Labor Bureau. This is also an important reason for the difficulty of obtaining household registration. Now, all countries are issuing policies to attract international talent and the report suggests that China shall also improve its HR policy mechanism to raise competitiveness in this sphere.
At the moment, U.S. immigration policy is closing thedoor to international talent. This talent could be an important treasure for China to boost its innovation, support the Belt and Road Initiative, and cope with issues caused by China's aging society.
The world's talent focuses on not only a competitive income, but also on the development environment. In recent years, China has been promoting a series of immigration policies to play an important role in attracting innovation talent from abroad. China's green card has become a favorite for foreign people living in China.
In January 2018, Shanghai promoted the “Talent Collection Program”, offering convenience to foreign talent in the aspects of permanent residence, long-term residence, visa of immigration and the port visa. The program contains seven policy measures that focus on the application for a permanent residence ID card. On April 2, six foreign talents, including Swiss Noble prizewinner Kurt Hermann Wüthrich, received a green card for permanent living in China.
In March 2018, the Beijing government issued 20 new reform measures in the facilitation of international talent immigration, introduction for foreign talent, support of international HR development and improvement of HR services for international talents Many of these policy measures are the first of its kind in China. The new policy issues multiple visas to foreign talent and allows foreign scientists with permanent residence to lead or be involve into national technology projects. It also gave the spouse and children of international high-end talent a green light to apply for permanent residency in China.
Xie Jiangbing, Chinese “Thousand Talent Plan” expert and starter of hightech firm Eyebright, is one of the beneficiaries of these 20 new policies. He applied for permanent residence through the program for his own family.
Faced with new times and a new situation, China is opening its door wider to involve the construction and improvement of its international immigration management system. In June 2016, China officially gained membership of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to be involved in international migration governance and promote international cooperation in migration. On March 17 of 2018, the National Congress approved the reform plan for the State Council institution, to enhance management and coordination of immigration affairs, consolidate management resources, integrate the functions of the Ministry of Public Safety in immigration management and border inspection, improve visa policies and establish the State Immigration Administration.
Shen Yibo, department director of the State Immigration Administration, said at the academic symposium on talent flow, immigration and immigration law that the purpose of establishing the State Immigration Administration is to learn the best management experiences of the world, better attract global highend talent, increase Chinese soft power, enhance China's innovation capacity, solve the issues of “illegal entry, illegal residence and illegal employment” and ensure the living, security and property rights of international immigrants. The State Immigration Administration's foundation reflects China's needs to be involved in global talent competition and transition towards talent dividend, and signals China's commitment to opening up its borders for better world development.