Established in 2008, China’s Thousand Talents Program was aimed at bringing in top-notch professionals from all parts of the world to work in China, contributing to the growth and success of the Chinese society. But despite looking like a noble idea, the Thousand Talents Program could result in some serious negative consequences for the world.
The Thousand Talents Program
China has a long history of “brain drain,” where some of its top professionals migrate to the West for better economic opportunities and standard of life, besides basic freedoms. It is to reverse this brain drain and to acquire skilled people in key areas like science and technology that the Thousand Talents Program was established by the Communist Party. And according to estimates, more than 4,000 highly qualified professionals have migrated to China under the program as of 2014.
The program offers some excellent rewards for applicants who agree to work and live in China for the development of the Chinese society. For one, the moment an applicant is accepted, they are rewarded with a one-time stipend of one million Yuan (approximately US$145,000). Plus, they are also granted research subsidies up to US$725,000 depending upon the nature of their research.
Every applicant is provided with permanent residency in China together with a residential apartment. They are allowed to bring their entire family with them. In addition, medical care and insurance policies guarantee the safety of the participants.
The threat to America and the world
China’s Thousand Talents Program is a direct threat to the U.S. in that it seeks to take away the best minds in America, thereby weakening the country’s technological and economic influence.
South China Morning Post quotes U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin as saying that America’s open society “offered China and others access to the same technology and information that is crucial to the success of our future war-fighting capabilities. We have seen the Chinese target top talent in American universities and research labs of the private sector, including defence contractors and the U.S. government.”
In addition to luring top-notch talent from the U.S. through their Thousand Talents Program, Beijing has also been using Western-trained Chinese people who have returned to the homeland to make some big changes in its science courses. The aim is to make the Chinese universities a hub for innovation and creativity.
But the bigger goal of China is very clear — to dethrone the U.S. from its current position as the global powerhouse. And this can have big negative consequences for the world. Countries tend to adopt the policies of the top global power. Since the U.S. is a democracy, the idea of a free and just society has been promoted for most of the past few decades.
But if a country like China, with its authoritarian rule, becomes the leading global power, then it will inevitably result in a shift in political ideologies. The idea of democracy is likely to be ditched for a more regulated, controlled society where free speech is crushed.
However, the U.S. still retains the advantage of being a democracy. It offers some of the best compensation packages, perks, and the highest quality of life in the world. Above all, America offers freedom, which the Chinese cannot provide. And most of the highly qualified people would rather live in a free society than be under the 24-hour surveillance of the government. As such, the U.S. simply has to leverage these advantages to continue attracting top-notch talent and keep Beijing in check.