Immigrant policy to adopt skill wish list

Updated: 2014-06-17 08:01

By He Dan (China Daily USA)

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A list of skills the country needs most and a points-based assessment system for applicants will feature in China's policy on skilled immigration, a senior official said on Monday

Socioeconomic development has made it more urgent for the nation to introduce talent from overseas, said Zhang Jianguo, head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

China regards a skilled immigration policy as a strategic requirement for its development, he said.

The policy on skilled immigration will be designed to include a list of most-needed occupations to reflect the country's long-term and short-term needs, he added.

A points-based system can help to assess the eligibility of applicants in terms of their knowledge, skills, adaptability and contributions to the country, he added.

Zhang made the remarks in Beijing on Monday at an international symposium on talent exchange and skilled-immigration policies.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, a think tank in Beijing, said China should gradually remove barriers preventing the inflow of overseas talent.

The country faces an imbalance in talent flow, as 9.34 million Chinese have migrated, including a considerable number of well-educated and skilled workers.

Only about 849,000 foreigners are staying in China legally, according to the 2014 Report on Chinese International Migration published by Wang's organization earlier this year.

Wang said the current migration policy discourages foreign talent from coming to study or work in China, adding that the country has only issued about 5,000 "green cards" to foreign applicants in the past 10 years since the permanent residency policy was introduced in 2003.

"China is a latecomer in the global competition for talent. It urgently needs to adopt a flexible approach to improve migration policy to attract global talent," he said.

He suggested the government relax migration policy to enable more foreign students at Chinese universities to obtain work permits after they graduate.

Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington DC, said immigration policymaking is a complex process and decision-makers should adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Mark Davidson, director-general of international and intergovernmental relations for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, urged China to pay more attention to help foreign migrants better integrate into society through dedicated education and training programs.

To ensure the skilled migration policy works out, the Chinese government should also tell the public of the need for such policies to win their support, he proposed.

(China Daily USA 06/17/2014 page1)