Favorable policies created for global workers
Beijing, a major hub for artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductors in China, is touting a new list of incentives to try and attract foreign talent for its equivalent of Silicon Valley in the Chinese capital.
New foreign hires at Zhongguancun Science Park will enjoy generous visa terms and will also get the coveted permanent residence certificate, which confers greater freedom of cross-border travel as well as local economic benefits.
Foreigners with permanent residence will also be allowed to head national-level innovation projects, and serve as the legal representatives of new scientific research institutions in China, the Beijing municipal government said in a statement at a media briefing on Tuesday.
China has laid out a road map to become a world leader in AI by 2030, aiming to surpass European and US dominance in cutting-edge technologies and build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion.
It has established dozens of new high-tech parks and incubators aimed at promoting technologies such as AI, robotics and big data.
But the talent pool at Zhongguancun Science Park, or Z-Park, still falls short of that in San Francisco, said Liu Minhua, a Party official in charge of talent management in Beijing.
"Z-Park only has just over 10,000 foreign hires," Liu told Reuters on the sidelines of the briefing. "In Silicon Valley, a third of the population comprises tech talent from all over the world."
The goal is to attract top-notch scientists and their innovation teams to come to Beijing, Liu said, to overcome the talent gaps in AI and supercomputing.
Z-Park has 10 overseas liaison offices designed to attract tech talent in countries including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and Finland.
Z-Park has offered permanent residence to 258 foreigners since 2016, according to Xinhua.
Tuesday's announcement also followed a slew of measures the Beijing municipal government and the central government have taken to attract foreign talent.
In 2016, the Ministry of Public Security launched a pilot visa program that allows foreigners of Chinese descent who earned a doctoral degree overseas and who work in Z-Park to be eligible for permanent residency, according to a report by the Beijing Times newspaper in 2016. And foreigners who have worked in Z-Park for four years or more and spend at least six months a year in China are also eligible for permanent residency, the report said.
In the first 11 months of 2017, major tech firms in Z-Park earned a total of 4.2 trillion yuan in revenue, up 14.2 percent year-on-year, official data showed in January.