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China to Push a New Policy to Attract Overseas High-end Talent: The “Thousand Talents Plan” 2.0?

China’s 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), which concluded on Thursday March 11, adopted the resolution on the 14th Five-Year Plan and the long-range objectives through the year 2035. The second part of the resolution indicates that China will bring in more high-end talent from overseas to help the development of cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, life sciences, aviation and aerospace. The purpose is to achieve the goal of making China a science and tech super power.

The resolution also mentions that, in the next five years, China will “implement a more open talent policy and build a research and innovation highland that gathers outstanding talent from home and abroad.” At the same time, China will “improve the policies for foreign high-end talent and professionals to reside in China while doing work, research and exchanges and it will improve the policies on permanent residency for foreigners and explore its technical immigration policy.” The policies include a sound system of remuneration and benefits, children’s education, social security, and tax concessions that will attract foreign talent. In addition, the document also considers establishing an international technical organization and allowing foreigners to work in China’s state-run technology institutions.

Cheng Xiaonong, a Chinese economist living in exile in the U.S. told Radio Free Asia that the new policy of introducing talent in the new five-year plan is an extension of the “Thousand Talents Program” that China has done. The essence is to steal foreign intellectual property and advanced technology by poaching talent from other countries.

China’s Thousand Talents Program (TTP) was launched in China in 2008. Afterwards, some TTP scholars have come under the scrutiny of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged espionage in the U.S. Since 2018, the FBI has been increasing the number of arrests and prosecutions of TTP scholars. At the same time, the U.S. Department of State began applying tougher restrictions on Chinese students by shortening from 5 years to 1 year the duration of visas for those planning to study aviation, robotics, and advanced manufacturing.

In September 2018, a working group for the Thousand Talents Program asked related Chinese organizations not to mention the wording “Thousand Talents Program” to the public in order to protect the safety of overseas talent. The word “Thousand Talents Program” and other related words have long been blocked on the Internet in mainland China.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 11, 2021