Bringing the Party Back in: the Role of Organization Department in China’s Reverse Migration

15 January 2013
USC US-China Institute

David Zweig
Associate Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

For many years, China’s government organizations led the effort to bring about a “reverse brain drain.” However, while 400,000 students have returned, the top 20% of its expatriate talent has remained abroad. To resolve this problem, in 2002-2003, the Organization Department of the CCP expanded its portfolio from “managing cadres” to managing “talent.” Yet, these early efforts did not “bring back the best.” However, since 2008, largely under the leadership of Li Yuanchao, director of the Organization Department, and through a new “1000 Talents Plan”, the CCP has become far more active in mobilizing central ministries, local governments, and overseas efforts to bring back China’s best. While these efforts have met with some success, the program has met with some difficulties leading most of the very talented to opt for short-term stays rather than make a full commitment to moving back to China.