Dr. Wei Li, Professor, School of Social Transformation

Skilled Migration to China: Chinese Returnees and U.S. Migrants

The 'global race for talent' has become a trend in the world amidst the rise of economic uncertainties, geopolitical realignments, and nationalism in the world. China has intensified its programs to recruit talent from abroad, gradually forsaking its traditional role as a brain-drain country to become an exemplar of brain circulation. In particular, China has developed many strategies to recruit highly-skilled overseas Chinese professionals as well as foreign talent. While much has been explored about skilled migration from developing countries to developed countries, less attention has been paid to emerging economies such as China as a destination for skilled migration. Within this shifting migration landscape, this project uses Guangzhou, China as a study site to gauge the migration intentions and experiences among both Chinese returnees and skilled migrants from the US.

Guided by the Intellectual Migration Framework (Li et al., 2015), this project aims to address these questions: 1) What are the reasons for skilled Chinese returnees and US migrants to move to China? 2) How do they experience economically and socially after moving to China? 3) Do their migration intentions and experiences vary by race, gender, and citizenship? If so, how? Based on semi-structured interviews and participant observation, this presentation focuses on US professionals in China. The research advances the academic scholarship in intellectual exchanges and migration. It also contributes to the recent discussions on immigration reform in both China and the U.S. and talent recruitment and retention strategies.