June 23, 2024


Sapiens Digital

‘Brain drain’ nonsense won’t undermine China’s growing tech competitiveness

3 min read


Innovation Photo: VCG

Innovation Photo: VCG

As China’s active anti-epidemic efforts are bringing a recent Omicron flare-up under control and major cities like Shanghai are gradually returning to normalcy, the hypes over the negative impacts of China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy have seeped into new topics besides capital outflow and supply chain move-out.

China faces “zero-COVID lockdown brain drain,” and it could affect the country’s ambitions to become a science and technology superpower, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday, citing an increase in the number of Chinese professionals, in particular tech professionals, exploring migration options during the last round of the epidemic.

Just like all the hypes that greatly exaggerate the impact of China’s epidemic prevention policy on China’s economy, the brain drain theory described normal fluctuations in immigration enquiries as a trend that could undermine China’s technology competitiveness, and blamed it on the dynamic zero-COVID policy. Such an alarmist attitude may attract wide attention, but it seriously distorts the facts.

It is nonsense to hype the so-called flight of scientific and technological talent from China due to the epidemic control measures. Facing ferocious Omicron flare-up, it is true that economic activities and people’s normal lives in Shanghai and other places in China have suffered a degree of impact, but any clear mind will understand that these temporary difficulties came with the control measures are in exchange for protecting public health and building up solid foundation for the subsequent economic recovery.

The South China Morning Post report said emigration consultants say Chinese tech professionals’ applications for Western countries like the US have soared. But comparing the situation of China and the US in responding to the epidemic, it is crystal clear that which of the two countries’ epidemic prevention policies is better.

Amid warnings of a new surge in coronavirus cases, COVID-19 deaths in the US hit the one-million mark last week, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In comparison, China’s epidemic prevention policies have minimized the damage to public health from the COVID-19 epidemic.

Shanghai, which has been hit hardest by this round of epidemics, has now tamed the latest Omicron wave and is returning to normal. The integrated circuit sector in Shanghai’s Lingang area recovered its full capacity. Tesla’s factory has achieved 45 percent of its normal capacity and enterprises across the auto manufacturing industry chain recovered 50 percent capacity. China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy has once again been shown to be efficient and its support for the economy will be fully demonstrated as the economy continues to rebound.

Driven by a zero-sum mindset, the US has been trying to besiege and strangle China’s technology development. The core of the technology competition between the two countries is talent. The reason why Chinese companies could have a leading advantage in fields like 5G is partly because of the strengthening talent pool.

In the past, Chinese companies have used Chinese talent to build products and grow markets. US companies like Microsoft are using global talent to create products and markets. Now leading Chinese companies like Huawei have been working hard to bridge this gap.

Furthermore, Chinese government has also attached great importance to talent recruitment. China’s top leadership called for accelerating building of world center for talent and innovation at a central conference on talent-related work in September 2021. China plans to gather a large pool of strategic talent in key technology sectors by 2025, to complete the formation of a system that can attract world-class talent and pioneers in critical and emerging technologies by 2030, and to gain a comparative advantage in international talent recruitment and become the world’s leading talent center by 2035.

China’s economy continues to improve, especially within the advanced technology sector making it more attractive to top talent. As China improves regulations and policies and strengthens the construction of the scientific research environment, its attractiveness to overseas scientific research talent will continue to grow.

The author is an editor with the Global Times. [email protected]


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