Despite its rapid economic growth over the past three decades, China still needs experts, especially in the field of natural sciences, to catch up with developed countries.
That the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs had to initiate a program late last year to recruit 500 to 1,000 highly qualified and experienced non-Chinese experts from foreign countries in 10 years shows the importance the central government attaches to the need.
True, China surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest economy last year and the country has never enjoyed such a high economic growth rate. But being the second largest economy does not necessarily mean China is also the second strongest.
When it comes to core and most advanced technologies in special fields, which are controlled by transnational companies, China is way behind its developed counterparts. That explains why the country's top leaders have time and again emphasized the need and importance of innovation and made the development of innovative capability a national strategy. That is also why the transformation of the country's economic growth model is on top of the government work agenda.
Now the United States and some major European Union countries are planning to reinvigorate their manufacturing industries with even more advanced technologies, and China cannot afford to be left behind again.
It is necessary for China to seek help from the international pool of talents to enhance its innovative capability. But it will not be easy to get top-class scientists and experts to work in China because most of them are already deeply involved in some research or the other at home or in other advanced countries.
It is encouraging to see that most of the foreign experts in the first batch of 40 have already started work in fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering and environmental sciences in China. Yet the importance of verifying and scrutinizing the experts' credentials and competence cannot be overstated.
The panel overseeing the recruitment process should first ensure that a highly qualified expert(s) is indeed needed to work on or solve certain problems and then select the person(s) best suited for the job.
Only if such strict rules are followed will the huge amounts of money the country spends on the process be worthwhile.
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