China’s demand for foreign experts is evident through the country’s recruitment plans since 2008. Not only does China aim to attract foreign investors, but it also targets foreign experts from across the globe. To note, many big cities in China have been providing special incentives to overseas workers and more opportunities to obtain a permanent residency.

Take a look at our previous article on Special Incentives for Overseas Talents in Shanghai

Despite some controversies and the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has continued to strive for better innovations and breakthroughs by importing foreign talents all over the world. Let us look through China’s nationwide project dedicated to foreign professionals and experts.

Foreign talents and high-end experts

China established the National High-end Foreign Experts Recruitment Plan to attract high-level overseas scientists and experts, individuals with post-graduate degrees who hold significant roles in world-class universities and other institutions. These are individuals who have in the past contributed immensely to the development of science, technology, business, and other relevant industries, who are willing to contribute to China’s growing economy.

Qualified individuals and teams who decide to relocate to China will receive significant financial support from the Chinese government. These individuals may include:

  • Those who are researching high-tech industries or new fields at the forefronts of science; and
  • Those who participate in the country’s major scientific programs, key laboratories, state-owned enterprises, state-owned financial institutions, high-tech development zones, and industrial parks.

Recruiting agencies for foreign talents

Individuals and teams can apply to the nationwide funding project through recruiting universities or the government in China. These can be institutions, enterprises, research structures, and/or universities that have legal personalities in mainland China. This means that individuals may search for institutions or research facilities inside mainland China that are included in the program and submit their applications through those entities.

The recruiting entity then submits the received applications to the Foreign Expert Project Management System. Applicants should also then submit hard copy versions in Chinese to the office indicated in the original call in the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.

Chinese national innovation funding programs for foreign experts

The Chinese government sponsors several funding programs both at the national and local levels. These include programs offered to European nations.

At the national level, five funding pillars for innovation, science, and technology are available:

  • Natural Science Fund

The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) administers the NSF, focusing on applied and fundamental (basic) research in the natural sciences.

  •  S&T Major Projects

These projects target China’s economy and industrial competitiveness focusing on major key projects or products, technologies, and engineering.

  • Key R&D Programmes

These programs are applicable to areas of social welfare and people’s livelihood, and R&D projects that are well-defined and well-targeted areas in those aspects.

  • Technology Innovation Guiding Fund (s)

This program fund projects related to innovative start-ups and SMEs (venture capital funds, private equity, and risk compensations), stimulating their transfer and commercialization.

  • Bases and Talents Programmes

This program aims to establish top-notch and state-of-the-art innovation bases and to foster talents and teams with global competitiveness.

The Ministry of Science and Technology will lead the inter-ministerial joint council made up of 31 ministries and government agencies. Furthermore, this council will have the job to integrate the above five pillars into a unified management structure where coordination of priorities, strategies, directions, and budgeting, and preventing overlaps across and within industries and ministries.

Meanwhile, other oversights and safeguarding mechanisms and strategies are in place to ensure that all expected outputs are met and that the granting of projects is done smoothly.

The Thousand Talents Plan

The Chinese government also allotted a program for high-level scientists and talents from overseas at the central level besides the above-mentioned projects. It is inclusive of numerous categories that target different groups of experts, including the one exclusively for foreign scientists. However, this is now replaced by the National High-end Foreign Expert Recruitment Plan.

National High-end Foreign Expert Recruitment Plan

The first call to publish in January 2019 had a deadline of March 15, 2020. However, there are recruiting agencies that post their Talent Recruitment Programme for 2021 and further. High-end foreign experts or talents have the following requirements or expectations:

  1. An associate professor (or equivalent position) in a globally renowned foreign university or research institution
  2. Senior management or senior technology position in an internationally renowned enterprise or firm
  3. Entrepreneurs with indigenous Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) or mastering key core technologies
  4. Other high-level foreign experts and young experts/talents urgently needed by the country (China)
  5. Chinese Language skill is not required for some applications/recruiting entities

Due to COVID-19, some programs may have paused hiring or have encouraged other forms of engagements such as distant supervising, lecturing, and technical consulting.

Have a look at Hiring Practices and What Foreign Businesses Should Know


China’s advancement in the world-economy will flourish some more with the aid of current and future innovations from projects such as the national high-end experts’ recruitment plan. Despite what other countries claim against the motives of such programs, the establishment of such research plans and innovative solutions will ultimately be beneficial not only to China but also to the rest of the world. There are multiple options to choose from for qualified individuals, but whichever option one would be qualified, there definitely would come out a beneficial outcome both for the individual’s career and to all countries involved in the innovative project.

Contact us

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