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Stay or leave : Overseas Chinese students face dilemma
Updated: 2004-02-24 11:26

Eight months have elapsed since Li Guang returned to China after he got a Master's degree in Britain, but he is still visiting various talent fairs to hunt for a job.

"In Britain, it's difficult for foreign graduates to find a decent job," Li said. "It seems not easy in China either."

However, as China enjoys a continuos economic boom in recent years, it is still attractive to overseas Chinese students.

The Ministry of Education announced this week that in 2003, the number of returned students hit 20,100, an annual record high since 1978 when China started to exchange students with foreign countries.

The government has launched more than 60 zones specially for returned students, who are running more than 4,000 companies.

But various difficulties are undermining overseas students' confidence to return.

"With the number of returned students soaring, I no longer feel competitive myself in the domestic job market." Li said.

In fact, China carries a heavy domestic employment burden. In 2003 alone, there were about 24 million people who needed jobs in cities, including about 10 million new job seekers such as college and technical school graduates, figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security indicate.

Zhang Jueming returned to China this year to spend the Spring Festival with his family for the first time after studying and working in the United States for six years.

Due to his having worked in the United States, Zhang's present student visa is suspected to have an emigration purpose, which is very likely to be refused by the American embassy when his winter vacation ends.

"I took the risk this time not only because I am homesick, but for a closer look at the changes of today's China, so as to decide where to work in the future," Zhang said.

But he decided not to stay and work in China.

"Hi-tech parks do offer a lot of preferential financial loans, but they are still limited. Companies and venture investment are usually hard to get because our companies can usually hardly payoff in a short term," he said.

"Besides, I have been abroad for many years and find that China 's social and working environment are too complicated for me to cope with," Zhang added.

Zhang admitted that he didn't have a clear idea when he chose to study abroad six years ago, but he won't do the same when choosing where to work this time.

"Stay or leave, you have to be oriented by a clear target, and a close observation of your surroundings," he finally said.

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