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China's promise lures grads home

Students educated abroad find opportunity – and a lifestyle similar to what they had overseas.

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Dressed in a demure lace-frilled blouse and a sensible midcalf skirt, sipping a cup of Starbucks tea, Guo Yixin could be an ambitious young executive almost anywhere.

The fact that she is in Beijing, though, is testament to a trend that promises to transform Chinese business: Chinese students with foreign college degrees are coming home in ever greater numbers.

Some are drawn by the new opportunities that China's rapidly expanding economy is opening up to highly educated, internationally minded young people.

"This is where things are happening," says Ms. Guo.

Alternatives?

Others find themselves with few alternatives to returning home, as countries such as the United States, Australia, and Britain tighten up immigration laws and make it harder for foreign students to stay on.

"I couldn't get permanent residence, so I decided to come back," explains Rao Monong, who had hoped to get a job as a reporter in Australia after finishing her journalism master's at the University of Sydney.

Either way, after 30 years of relentless brain-drain, more and more Chinese are becoming "sea turtles," as they are known here, choosing to come home when they are done with their studies. Some 44,000 came back in 2007, according to Education Ministry figures. Last year, that figure jumped to 108,000.

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