America Challenges China's National Talent Programs

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The Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) was created by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2008 to overcome the brain drain of Chinese talent that has seen many of the best Chinese scholars and researchers take up residency in Canada, the United Kingdom, and particularly the United States. The goal of Li Yuanchao, a reformist former CCP Politburo member who created the TTP, was to create an “innovative society,” not to steal U.S. technology. However, over the years, the program, which is estimated to have had approximately 7,000 participants, has become extremely controversial, generating deep concern within the U.S. government about Chinese IP theft. This paper reviews the history of China’s overseas talent programs, analyzes why they have generated diplomatic discord, and offers policy recommendations for China and the United States. If adopted, such steps will protect collaborative research and publishing.

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David Zweig

Professor Emeritus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Siqin Kang

Ph.D. candidate, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Hong Kong