Should the Brain Drain Be Stopped by Restrictions?
It is said that Shanghai's musicians abroad could form
a worldclass symphony orchestra.
But the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra once failed to find
a qualified conductor for a whole year!
A similar situation exists in science, medicine and
Stopping the outflow of talent depends on creating a
sound domestic environment rather than simply setting up barriers for
those who wish to go abroad.
A handful of people go abroad to seek a comfortable
life. But most Chinese intellectuals emigrate because they cannot bring
their talent into full play in their motherland.
Many conductors trairied by the Shanghai Conservatory
of Music have gone abroad either because they cannot find jobs in symphony
orchestras due to the competition for places, or because they cannot
develop themselves in orchestras where promotion comes only by way of
We face a keen shortage of talent, but one batch of
gifted people after another have gone abroad". The situation is grim.
It is impossible to improve the conditions for all
intellectuals by a wide margin. But it is possible for governments. at all
levels to create a better environment for their development.
The outflow of talent is a loss to our nation as well
as a pressuse forcing us to optimize the environment for the taleated.
Read the following passages. Underline the important
viewpoints while reading.
l. Give Students More I.eeway
Ten years ago, the Shanghai Public Security Bureau
issued four passports each day. Now the staff must work long hours to
process more than 1, 000 a day.
People's Daily reports that more than 70,000 Chinese
students and scholars are now studying abroad with still more ready to go.
While many people are worried about the brain drain
problem, the article said that whatever the motives of students who leave,
there is no doubt that they cherish a deep feeling towards the motherland.
It has been suggested that people who fail to returnon
time should be granted "temporary leave from their posts" to
encourage them to return at any time.
Among those who joined the recent rush abroad, more
than half went to further their studies and keep up with the latest
academic achievements. According to a survey conducted among some 7, 000
scientific researchers in Shanghai, 82 per cent believed that their
experiences abroad were "fruitful". Half said they had made
headwayin their work.
Meanwhile, they said they continued to follow with
great concern the development of their country's economic reforms.
Ascholar with a doctorate from 1 Iew York University had written over 100,
000 words of suggestions to the Chinese central government, the article
Loneliness was found to be the worst enemy of
thestudents living away from their families and homeland.
The brain drain from developing to developed countries
is an international
phenomenon. In China, backward management and unreasonable distribution
systems, together with poor living and working conditions, have led to the
departure of many intellectuals.
"After my graduation from university, I have spent
four years in my office reading a newspaper with a cup of tea every day I
want to go abroad to start a new life, " said a 25-year-old technical
worker who was waiting for a visa from the Japanese Consulate.
Some students and scholars had stayed in foreign
countries beyond their time limit for one reason or another. For this thoy
had been labelled unpatriotic.
But People's Daily called for more trust and
understanding of those students.
A scholar studying and working at an American
university said he would return to China as soon as his daughter finished
secondary school in the US.
A young scholar at a Shanghai research institute said
he could not manage to conduct research with a meagre State allocation of
2, 000 yuan a year. In America, he can get $ 24, 000 a yeat' for use in
research, so he decided to stay on after getting his degree.
In such cases, most work units back in China dismiss
those who fail to return on time. This hurts the feelings of many who are
willing to return later, the article said.
At the same time, those who do return face a job
China,s irrational employment and personnel system
prevents some from fully using the skills and knowledge they have acquired
Ai Xiaobai, with a PhD in Physics, wrote to il
institutions of higher learning in China. Two of them refused him and the
others did not even answer him. Just before deciding to go back to
America, he was hired by a Chinese research institute which knew of him.
2. Personal Progress and Job-hopping
In many parts of the world, personal influence is
almost essential in getting ahead. One needs a "godfather? a
"sponsor". Here that is not true. Naturally all people use
influence sometimes, but one rarely advances far on that basis alone in
the United States. Here traits which lead to success are generally
considered to be the willingness to work hard (at any kind of job),
scholarship or skill, initiative, an agreeable and outgoing personality.
In other words even in the realm of personal progress, this is a
"do-it-yourself" society. By and large, success is neither
inherited nor bestowed. This means, therefore, that our employment
practices are different from those in many other countries.
In some nations it is considered disloyal to quit a
job; deep reciprocal loyalties exist between employee and employer
(recipient and "patron?in many cases); lifelong job security and
family honor are frequently involved.
This is not.true in the United States.
"Job-hopping" is part of our constant mobility. We consider it a
" right " to be able to better ourselves, to move upward, to
jump from company to company if we can keep qualifying for more
responsible (and therefore better) jobs.
This interchangeability of personnel seems unreasonable
to some members of foreign nations. Where are our roots? How can we be so
cold and inhuman? "We act,?some say, as if we were dealing with
machines, not humans. ?They do not understand that a great many Americans
like to move about. New jobs present new challenges, new opportunities,
new friends, new experiences-often a new part of the country.
The employer may be quite content too. Perhaps he has
had the best of that man's thinking; a new person may bring in fresh
ideas, improved skills, or new abilities. Then, too, a newcomer will
probably start at a lower salary for he will have no seniority. Hopping is
so readily accepted here, in fact, that a good man may bounce back and
forth among two or three corporations, being welcomed back to his original
company more than once through his career, each time at a different level.
3. Residents Go Overseas to Seek Their Fortunes
Shanghai has become a favourite investment spot with
to get a financial foothold in China.
And with the development of its export-oriented
economy, the city looks set to become an international trade and financial
centre on the west bank of the Pacific Ocean.
But many Shanghai people are not content simply to sit
and wait for the foreigners to come to them-they want to go abroad
themselves to try their luck.
The Shanghainese have a reputation for being able to
find work the world over. Before the founding of New China in 1949,
hundreds of thousands of them were trading throughout the world.
In the 1950s and 1960s when the country was pursuing
its closeddoor policy, hundreds of factories, research institutes and
universities--involving more than 1 million people-were moved from
Shanghai into the inland areas to support the nation's socialist
construction. Now,people with Shanghai accents can be found all over the
The current policy of developing the export-oriented
economy in the coastal areas has stimulated the Shanghai people's desire
to head off for foreign parts.
And, according to the Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily, the
best way for them to do this is to engage in business or provide labour
and technical services to other countries.
Shanghai has too many people chasing too few jobs, so
this surplus labour force could solve the labour shortages which exist in
some other parts of the world.
Workers' monthly wages abroad can be 100 times what
they are in China-although the cost of Iiving is likely to be much higher
in some countrtes.
Furthermore, while working overseas, the Chinese
workers would get the chance to learn advanced technology and to become
entrepreneurs and specialists, thus promoting trade and economic
co-operation between China and other countries.
Jiefang Daily suggests locai authorities should take
the following measures to promote exports of labour:
Set up labour service groups to undertake contractual
projects abroad. Shanghai workers have taken part in many overseas
projects in the past, such as construction of railways, factories and
other buildings. With their high reputation, they would be a force to be
reckoned with on the world labour market.
Estahlish employer-employee introduction
offices. Drivers, repairmen, nurses, housemaids,
hairdressers, cooks and workers involved in gardening and
construction are in great demand in many countries and these offices could
provide training and act as a bridge between employers and employees.
Encourage peopie to look for jobs themselves. As many
Shanghai residents have relatives overseas, they could easily get help in
finding work abroad.
Promote co-operation between the State and individuals.
If local people are encouraged to work abroad, workers with special skills
would flow out of the country, thus creating a brain drain. To solve the
problem, consideration must be given to both State and private interests.
When workers go abroad at their own expense, the enterprises they work for
should give them favourable treatment when they return. While working
overseas, the workers should help their enterprises open up to the world
Shanghai residents have strong aspirations to expand
their living space and they are good at trading. But first priority should
be given to entrepreneurs who are brave enough to journey out into the
world and build success.
Before the founding of new China, a number of
world-renowned figures such as shipping magnate Pao Yue Kang and the
computer king Wang An were raised in Shanghai. It is expected that a group
of new magnates will emerge when Shanghai entrepreneurs enter the world
Now that Shanghai is capable of building 100,
000-ton-class vessels and manufacturing sophisticated precision building
machines, powerful generators, colour televisions and bicycles, there is
no reason why the city could not create a group of world-class shipping
kings, building machine kings and bicycle kings.
With a solid industrial foundation and technical force,
Shanghai could also set up factories and shops overseas to compete with
foreign counterparts. Shanghai-made brands, very popular at home now, will
surely capture a slice of the world market if sales promotion is
Shanghai produces quality cloth shoes of good
workmanship. But its exports are $ 1. 1 billion annually, only half of
Taiwan's total, due to the neglect of sales promotion overseas.
Shanghai boasts numerous specialists in the fields of
science, technology,culture and education. These experts could earn a good
deal of foreign exchange for the State if technical services were offered
to countries that badly need skilled workers in high-tech industries.
The city can also directly export technology and
software and contract scientific research projects abroad, as it possesses
advantages in the fields of laser, optical fibre, microelectronics and
biological engineering technology.