Foreign placement helps civil servants study methods used in other countries. Jiang Xueqing, Hu Haiyan and Eric Jou in Beijing report.
Clockwise from top: Dan Durning (second right), former director of the International Center for Democratic Governance in Georgia, poses with Chinese officials, from left, Liu Xin, Liu Tie and Xiao Jun in October 2005; Liu Xin chats with American colleagues in December 2005; Liu Xin at the University of Georgia in 2005. [Photos Provided to China Daily]
For Chinese government officials, tedious meetings filled with long-winded speeches are an occupational hazard.
"They take up a big part of our daily schedule, and in most cases are unnecessarily long," said Zhao Shiyong, 43, deputy chief of the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province.
However, for the last five years, he has been overhauling his department to make meetings faster and more efficient - thanks to an eight-month internship in the United States.
"I went to a meeting that would have lasted half a day in China, but (in the US) it lasted just half an hour," he said. "We'd have had a speaker make a long opening speech, then he'd talk about every department and then experts would make long speeches. There was none of that.
"Now when I hold a big meeting I make sure it lasts a maximum of two hours," he added.
Zhao was among five officials from Southwest China chosen to shadow counterparts in Georgia and Minnesota in 2005 and 2006 as part of an innovative program. Today, overseas placements are one of the most popular and important forms of on-the-job training for China's civil servants.
The rapid development of China's economy has increased demand for more administrators with cross-cultural knowledge and a global vision, and pushed the internationalization of talents to the top of the agenda.
Beijing's Dongcheng district government announced in November it will place its most promising workers with a host of international organizations, companies and governments in developed countries.
The authority, which has previously sent staff members to China's Hong Kong special administrative region and South Korea, aims to have 20 percent of its staff trained overseas by 2030 using a special talent development fund. Annual investment in 2011 will be at least 50 million yuan ($7.5 million), with the sum likely to increase every year.
"The plan reflects a strategic vision," said Wu Degui, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, in an interview with People's Daily online.