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China's promise lures grads home

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Fewer Chinese students going abroad

Since 1978, when Chinese students were first allowed to go abroad, about 1.3 million of them have done so. In the past, nearly three-quarters of them would stay away and find work outside China, but that proportion is now dropping.

Among those returning home after their studies are some scientific researchers tempted by special programs the Chinese government has set up to fund their work and pay them better salaries. Others have taken advantage of the Beijing muni­cipal government's offer of temporary accommodation, tax breaks on cars, and priority access to a prized city residence permit.

Most, though, are coming back simply because today there are enough jobs to match their skills.

"There are more foreign companies in China and more Chinese companies doing international business," says Zong Wa, head of the China Education Association for International Exchange, a group affiliated with the Education Ministry. "That creates more and more opportunities for people who have been abroad for a while," he says.

Most employers welcome them, says Jiang Lei, an executive with the Education International Cooperation Group, a company that helps students find university places abroad.

The firm noted in a recent survey that 77 percent of returnees found a job within three months of coming home, says Mr. Jiang, a much higher rate than for locally educated students.

"Their experience and education abroad makes them more tolerant of other values and they have learned the international rules of the game," Jiang adds. "That's their advantage."

The gap between the East and the West

China does not just offer jobs to new graduates. Increasingly, its cities offer the sort of lifestyle that students enjoyed abroad.

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