Libmonster ID: UK-1358


Candidate of Economic Sciences

Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: China, re-emigrants, social problems

China's rapid economic development during the period of reform and opening-up (since 1979) has created favorable conditions for doing business in the country. As a result, Chinese specialists living abroad, graduates and students of foreign universities have increased their interest in returning to their ethnic homeland.

The Chinese authorities pay great attention to creating favorable conditions for their professional activities,as well as purely in everyday life. Nevertheless, many re-emigrants face very serious social problems that hinder their adaptation to new conditions.

According to opinion polls of foreign Chinese students, 80% of respondents intend to return to their homeland after completing their studies, and 41% - because of the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, 36% - the desire to live with a family, 16% - problems of employment abroad, 4% - difficulties of career growth in the host country, 3% - for other reasons [1].

Indeed, the number of compatriots who have returned from abroad has increased markedly in recent years. However, it is necessary to clarify that among those who returned were not only highly qualified specialists and graduates of foreign universities, but also forced re-emigrants - people with low qualifications and the elderly.

The return of Chinese specialists is an important part of the strategy of attracting highly qualified personnel to China for the innovative development of the country's economy. To this end, Beijing has developed and launched numerous research programs and grants for foreign Chinese specialists; job fairs, forums and conferences are held for them in the PRC and abroad. At the central and local levels, the authorities are doing everything possible to improve the working and living conditions of returnees. Those who come to work in state institutions are assisted in obtaining a permit for a long stay in the country, registering, providing housing, and ensuring access to education for their children.

An important measure is to create favorable conditions for professional activities. For example, in Shanghai, some project managers are allowed to keep between 20% and 50% of the total investment in a given project as a reward. And the Shanghai Government provides additional bonuses of 10% of the project investment to performers of research projects included in the national plan. For other projects (not included in the national plan), remuneration is also provided, the amount of which depends on the quality of work performed [2]. It is not surprising that many Chinese scientists, specialists, and university graduates working abroad see China as a country of favorable opportunities, with a huge potential of the domestic market.

However, despite the wide range of measures taken by Beijing to improve the living and working conditions of returned specialists, the latter often face quite acute, often difficult to solve problems, such as dissatisfaction with local Chinese colleagues, the difficulty of adapting to working and living conditions, teaching children in schools, registration procedures, etc.

Perhaps the most important problem is the dissatisfaction of local personnel with the special situation in which the returned Chinese specialists are located. Many believe that their importance is overestimated, and their success is the result of special working and living conditions provided by the state. According to statistics, 19% of local university teachers and 29% of scientists believe that the amount of research funding for returning colleagues is significantly higher and that they are promoted faster through the career ladder; 14% and 15% believe that the housing conditions of re-emigrants are significantly better than those of local ones.

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At the same time, the returned specialists themselves look at everything differently. Among them, only 3% of teachers and 18% of scientists agree with the statements about large amounts of funding for research projects compared to local ones; 2% and 12%, respectively, say that they are promoted faster through the career ladder; 2% and 4% believe that their living conditions are better than those of local specialists [3].

There are also serious discussions in China about the quality of returning specialists. In general, it is widely believed that they are more highly qualified than local people, and therefore make a significant contribution to the development of the country. It is opposed by the statement that not the most talented people return to their homeland, but only those who have not achieved professional success abroad. A lot of facts are presented in defense of both theses.

Data from a survey of 100 returned and 100 local entrepreneurs from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou showed that 34% of returned and only 9% of local entrepreneurs own the latest technologies, while 46% against 30% have technologies "not the latest in the world, but new to China" [3, p. 203]. These figures support the first thesis.

The second claim is supported by two other sociological studies conducted in 2006. According to the first, only 2 out of 82 scientists in the cities of Changsha, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Kunming had an annual salary of more than $50 thousand before returning to their homeland, and 3 scientists had an annual salary ranging from $35 thousand, up to $50 thousand rubles. The remaining 77 - it was less than $35 thousand. The second study found that only 8 out of 109 returning teachers earned more than $25,000 a year, while 77% of them earned less than $12,500 a year. [3, p. 204]

According to the author, these data do not reflect the current situation, because during the 2008 - 2009 crisis, due to the economic downturn, the level of returned specialists increased significantly. However, despite the improvement in the quality of these personnel and, consequently, an increased role in China's economic development, the unfriendly attitude of colleagues towards them still persists.

The hostility of non-foreign-qualified Chinese professionals to their colleagues who have returned from abroad is reflected in an interview conducted at a university in southwest China. All local experts agreed that returning Chinese specialists were not particularly valuable to their educational institution and that teachers who had not traveled abroad were of great benefit. However, it is those who have returned that the university helps to buy housing, pays money for the organization of everyday life and the beginning of research [3, p. 211].

There are cases when the current situation prevents talented people who have received doctoral degrees in China, including such reputable organizations as Tsinghua University (Beijing) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, from being employed at universities. Despite the fact that the level of their qualifications is no worse than that of holders of foreign diplomas, preference is still given to the latter, which causes dissatisfaction of specialists who received education in their own country [3, p. 212].

In addition, many people consider the requirements of returned personnel to be too high. This applies to the desire of most of them to quickly get a professorship, conduct independent research and lead other employees, which creates an imbalance in the dynamics of the development of research centers.


The second problem is the difficulty of adapting returning specialists to local working and living conditions. Returning with high hopes and enthusiasm, many of them find it difficult to re-fit into the realities of Chinese reality. This is hindered both by their previous experience of living abroad and by high, often unrealistic expectations.

Most re-emigrants want to work for international corporations, believing that they can best assess their capabilities and realize their work experience. For a number of reasons, it is much more difficult for them to work in state-owned enterprises, for example, due to differences in the nature of relations with the employer. Local CEOs of Chinese companies are often dissatisfied with employees with foreign diplomas.

According to statistics, about 50% of Chinese companies have a satisfactory (3 points) assessment of specialists returning from abroad, and over 40% of companies have a relatively good (3-4 points) rating. These figures indicate a low assessment of the professional qualities of these employees by employers, and this applies primarily to those areas of activity where knowledge of the domestic market is required (real estate, consulting, law, accounting, etc.) [4]. When applying for jobs in the above-mentioned specialties, employers often give preference to local specialists.

Quite often, high expectations remain unfulfilled. In some cases, highly educated personnel with

page 26

When they return to their home country, they find themselves working in auxiliary roles, such as translators or tourist guides who accompany company managers on business trips and annual vacations. As a rule, returning specialists need from two to three years to fully adapt to the Chinese system and market, and from five to ten years to fully realize their professional capabilities.

The problem of adapting to working conditions at home is compounded by the difficulty of reintegrating returning specialists into Chinese society, as they have become Americanized and Europeanized while living abroad, and when they return, they feel outside of Chinese culture.


The third problem is the education of children of returned specialists. At first glance, the best solution may be to assign children to international schools. However, high tuition fees ($20 thousand or more per year) make international schools accessible only to children of wealthy parents or children studying at the expense of companies that sent their parents to China [5]. In addition, only children with foreign citizenship have the right to study in these schools, while many returned professionals and, consequently, their children retain Chinese citizenship. International schools that focus on learning English while high school students who have returned from abroad speak English at the native level are also not suitable.

You can solve the problem of education by sending your children to regular Chinese schools. However, there are also some problems here, the main one of which is the difficult process of adaptation of children who have returned from abroad to Chinese school, caused, firstly, by language difficulties, since many children do not speak Chinese well enough or do not speak it at all. Secondly, a fundamentally different system of training, monitoring and evaluation of knowledge, in comparison with the foreign education system. Third, the hostile attitude of classmates and teachers towards these children.

In China itself, the problem of educating children of returning specialists is now widely discussed. At the same time, specific proposals are put forward for its solution, in particular, it is recommended to::

- open bilingual schools on the basis of existing schools in China with advanced study of English. Education in such schools is conducted in both Chinese and English, which will enable children of returned specialists to stay in their usual English-speaking environment and learn Chinese at the same time.;

- open international departments in multidisciplinary schools. In China, international branches have already been opened at the Shanghai High School and the National People's Congress High School, accepting students from all over the world. Tuition fees in these institutions are significantly lower than in international schools, and it is recommended to reduce them even more to an acceptable level for returning specialists;

- encourage national and private companies to open international schools. Today, such schools operate in Beijing, Shanghai, and Dalian [5, p.312].

The fourth significant problem is the complexity of the registration procedure in the cities of residence, which provides benefits for education, health care, social insurance, and sometimes even employment opportunities.

The Chinese registration system is a major obstacle for some returning professionals. The most popular places of residence for Chinese returning from abroad are large metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Shanghai. But it is in these cities that it is most difficult to get registration.

It is relatively easy to register for those who are employed by a state-owned enterprise or in state-funded organizations, such as universities, which provide a good social package. Such organizations have a sufficient number of quotas for providing registration to their employees, however, if there is more than one child in the family, registration may be refused [6].

It is much more difficult for those who work for foreign companies to get registered. These companies offer higher salaries than state-owned organizations, but they do not have quotas for providing registration, and they do not provide assistance in registering employees who have Chinese citizenship. Those who can't get registered have to pay for all social services in full.

The most difficult issue is the registration of children born outside of China. Often they remain foreigners for their parents ' country. When the family returns to China, the children face a double problem: first, compliance with the visa regime; and second, the lack of local information.

page 27

Chart. Average time of job search by specialists who have returned to China.

Source: Huiyao Wang. Dandai zhongguo haigui [Haigui in modern China]. Beijing, 2007, p. 243.

registrations [6]. Because of this, many overseas Chinese who have children do not dare to return to their homeland.


The fifth major problem faced by returning professionals is unemployment. 38% of re-emigrants cannot find their desired job in the first 3 months after returning to their homeland, 21% - are employed within 3-6 months, 11% - 6-12 months, 6% - spend more than a year searching for a job (see chart).

Those who have returned can be roughly divided into five categories::

1) those who have been educated at leading universities in China, have experience working in Chinese companies and have advanced their skills in large research centers or companies abroad;

2) those who have received education in leading foreign universities and work experience in large companies abroad;

3) those who have received education in leading foreign universities, but do not have work experience in their specialty;

4) those who have received education in not the most prestigious foreign universities and do not have work experience in their specialty;

5) those who have not completed their studies abroad (who have completed only 1-2 bachelor's degree courses) and do not have any work experience.

The first two categories of returned specialists do not have any problems with employment in China. These are highly paid specialists who are readily accepted by both foreign and Chinese public and private companies. Demand and competition between large companies for personnel of this level are constantly growing.

It is somewhat more difficult to find the desired place of work for representatives of the 3rd category. The monetary expectations of graduates of leading foreign universities are significantly overestimated. Most of them expect to earn $30-50 thousand a year, but not all of them manage to earn even $10 - 20 thousand. per year [5, p. 234]. Returning specialists in this category can only find a job if they agree to a lower salary for their work and reduce the requirements for the position they are looking for. However, this often has negative psychological consequences: causes general frustration, low spirits, and reduced performance. It turns out that the energy and money spent on studying abroad do not give an instant return at home.

It is almost impossible for representatives of the 4th and 5th categories to find the desired place of work. Tuition fees at not the most prestigious foreign universities are low, but the level of IOD training of graduates is even lower. Such universities give mediocre students with a low level of academic achievement a chance to get a diploma. But their graduates not only do not learn the basics of the specialty well, but they do not even learn the language of the host country. In addition, it is not uncommon to sell diplomas to foreign students. Upon returning to their homeland, such "specialists" are unclaimed. Foreign Chinese students who fail to study abroad have to finish their studies at home or work in auxiliary jobs.

The high rate of unemployment among returning specialists, although to a lesser extent than the level of their qualifications, is still associated with an underestimation by the management of some large companies of the importance of attracting returned qualified personnel to work in international areas. In addition, not all companies conduct foreign economic activity, which also reduces the employment opportunities of returning specialists, whose advantage lies in their fluency in foreign languages, advanced technologies, etc.-

page 28

experience in management, knowledge of foreign culture and business rules.


Having considered the problems of qualified specialists who have returned to the PRC, we will now turn to the problems of another category of returned Chinese: forced re-emigrants - low-skilled specialists and elderly people employed mainly on farms and in their own companies.

A serious problem is the clash of economic interests of forced re-emigrants and the host society, which is most acutely manifested in the commercial sphere.

In the era of reforms and attracting investment, the land of re-emigrant farms has become a very valuable resource. Local authorities abused their powers to please investors, violating the rights and interests of re-emigrants employed on these farms. The problem intensified in the late 1980s, when farms were handed over to local officials, which allowed them to take large plots of land from re-emigrants under the guise of economic development goals. Re-emigrants were provided with only scanty compensation for land plots. In addition, there are disputes and conflicts about land ownership rights between re-emigrants and residents of surrounding villages.

For example, in the Guangxi Zhuan Autonomous Region, out of 45 farms owned by re-emigrants, 44 had land grabs of various scales. 41 thousand hectares out of 345.8 thousand hectares were captured , which is 12% of the total area, and mainly arable land [14]. In Hainan Province, 666.7 hectares were taken away from 5 farms of re-emigrants. In Fujian Province, the area of captured or disputed land reached 200 hectares [7].

The continuation of land grabs indicates the inefficiency of local authorities. Adequate measures were not taken in response to complaints and requests from re-emigrants to investigate the current situation. The conflict dragged on, becoming one of the reasons for an even more complex problem-the decline in the level of welfare of forced re-emigrants. Other factors also contributed to their impoverishment, including difficulties in obtaining loans due to accumulated huge debts [7, p. 278], as well as the obligation to make additional pension insurance contributions [7].

The well-being of re-emigrants was also negatively affected by the violation of their rights in the housing sector during the expansion of urban development and the demolition of dilapidated housing. The interests of forced re-emigrants are also insufficiently protected in the field of employment, and they were the first to join the ranks of the unemployed during cuts in state-owned enterprises.


In addition to the clash of economic interests of re-emigrants with the local population and the decline in living standards, the problem of their integration into the host society is very acute. The compact residence of re-emigrants has led to the formation of closed cultural groups that do not seek to interact with local Chinese.

Bright indicators of the degree of development of relations between re-emigrants and the host society are the circle of friends of re-emigrants and the percentage of marriages of re-emigrants with the local population.

For example, in Hainan Province (Binzunshan and Wenchang farms), at the beginning of 1998, there were no cases of 1st-generation re-emigrants marrying the local population, and the proportion of children of re-emigrants (Bingzunshan farm) who married local Chinese (Hainan Province) was 3%. Despite the fact that the number of marriages of children of re-emigrants with local Chinese is extremely small, some of them are concluded within the farms themselves. For example, at the Wenchang farm, 5 to 6 girls from among the children of re-emigrants married local Chinese (Hainan Province) who worked on this farm [7].

As for the circle of friends of re-emigrants, it practically did not include local residents. According to the results of a questionnaire survey of re-emigrants from Vietnam conducted at the Binzunshan farm, out of 36 respondents, 79% considered only re-emigrants to be close friends, 7% maintained friendly relations with both re-emigrants and the local population, and 14% considered local Chinese to be close friends [7, p.246].

It should be noted that there are difficulties in social interaction not only between re-emigrants and the local population, but also between re-emigrants from different countries. For example, re-emigrants from Indonesia are a more closed group than re-emigrants from Vietnam. In Hainan Province, there was the only "Indonesian village" in China, where they speak the Indonesian language, practice Indonesian religions, preserve the traditions and customs of holidays, weddings, funerals, birthdays, ceremonies, etc. Commitment to remi-

page 29

grants to the traditions and customs of the countries of exit do not contribute to their entry into the local society.

Among urban re-emigrants, the percentage of marriages made with local Chinese is significantly higher when compared with the village, but there are also problems here.

According to a questionnaire survey, 50.4% of Indonesian re-immigrants living in Beijing were married to people from their own background. This figure indicates a high degree of complexity of cultural integration and problems of self-identification of re-emigrants.

The second generation of re-emigrants has different statistics. According to a 1998 sociological survey conducted in Fuzhou (30 respondents), 82% of children of re - emigrants (40 people) married local Chinese, 18% (9 people) - with people from their own environment [7, p.248]. The data indicate an increasing trend towards integration into the host society among descendants of re-emigrants, and in the city the integration of re-emigrants occurs much faster than in the countryside.

The circle of friends of urban re-emigrants includes a larger percentage of the local population, compared to the village. According to the same survey conducted in Fuzhou, 59% of re-emigrants considered people from their own background to be close friends, 33% maintained friendly relations with both re-emigrants and the local population, and 8% considered local Chinese people to be close friends [7].

Let us now turn to the problem that is common to both returned specialists and forced re-emigrants, their differences in mentality. Despite the significant changes in public consciousness that have taken place since the reform and opening-up policy, there are still differences in thinking, behavior, and decision-making between Chinese people who have returned from abroad and the host society.

The vast majority of re-emigrants, regardless of whether they came from Europe, America, or South Asia, have long been influenced and imbued with the spirit of foreign culture, which has left a deep imprint on their lives, professional activities and behavior. Living abroad, foreign Chinese gradually formed a special "emigration culture", with their own norms of behavior and lifestyle. When they return to their homeland, they retain these specific features, which cannot but alienate the local Chinese society.

As noted above, the Government of the People's Republic of China is taking serious measures to provide substantial support and assistance to all returnees at the legislative and practical levels: unemployment issues are being resolved, legislative acts are being adopted to protect their legitimate rights and interests, etc. Nevertheless, most of the problems faced by returning specialists and re-emigrants are still quite acute today.

* * *

All the problems discussed above are not unique to China. Any host society, including Russia, which has its own multi-million diaspora abroad, faces them in one way or another. Therefore, the experience of the Chinese authorities in this area of activity may be of some interest to our country.

In 2006-2011, more than 62.5 thousand people were resettled in the Russian Federation for permanent residence within the framework of the "Program to assist the voluntary resettlement of compatriots living abroad to the Russian Federation", which has been open-ended since September 2012 [8]. To work with these people and attract new groups of compatriots, it will be useful to take into account both the negative domestic experience of the 1990s and the negative foreign experience, in particular, the experience of China.

A comprehensive analysis of the problems of returning Chinese specialists and forced re-emigrants on the example of the PRC can help Russia minimize the occurrence of conflicts between the host society and compatriots who have returned to their homeland.

1. ina/2008 - 12/04/content_7268631.htm

2. ina/2009 - 01/16/content_7412412.htm

3. Zweig David. Learning to compete: China's efforts to encourage a "reverse brain drain" // Competing for global talent / Ed. Ch. Kuptsch, Pang E.F. 2006. P. 211.

4. tenglish/se/txt/2009 - 09/27/content_ 219762_4.htm

5. Huiyao Wang. Haigui shidai [The Age of Haigui]. Beijing, 2005, p. 311.

6. http://www.overseaschinesenetw d-chinese-face-gruelling-residency-headache

7. Huang Xiaojian. Guiguo huaqiao de lishi yu xianzhuang [History and current situation of re-emigrants in China]. Hong Kong, 2005. p. 241.

8. /fmsuds/mo


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