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Millions spent to train civil servants abroad
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-10 09:06

The central government spends more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) every year to train civil servants overseas.

More than 40,000 government employees go through mid or long-term training programmes that cost about 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) per person, a government official said Monday.

The aim is to help more Chinese officials develop a better understanding of international rules and practices in their fields and help integrate the nation into the rest of the world, said official sources.

While large, the investment has proved its worth, said Liu Yanchao, deputy director of the Overseas Training Department of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs at a forum Monday.

More than 90 per cent of the officials at provincial or ministry level have training abroad, Xinhua reported Monday.

"It is a very large talent pool," said Liu.

As many as 450,000 Chinese officials ranging from national leaders to cadres of local governments as well as managers and technical personnel - have undergone some type of overseas training since China adopted reform and opening up policies.

Training abroad can help Chinese civil servants see things through an international perspective and improve their calibre in all aspects, training experts said.

"Overseas training helps public servants win the initiative during the increasing competition after China's entry into World Trade Organization," said an official with the Ministry of Personnel.

Last year, a group of 60 provincial officials were among the nation's first high-level leaders trained at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, reports said.

"The learning experience abroad will exert a subtle influence in my political career despite the limited study period," said Li Qun, a Party official from Linyi in East China's Shandong Province.

In 2000, Li and 13 other officials from Shandong spent six months in the United States studying public administration.

Officials have gone to countries such as Canada, the United States and Russia to take courses on a wide range of disciplines including dry land agriculture, desert control, fresh water warming and tourism exploration, said Li Pei, of the Department of Regulations and Liaison of the ministry.

China's first official overseas training programme was held in France in 1991.

In past 13 years, the French association that worked on the first training exchange, AFEPE, has received more than 4,000 Chinese trainees.

About one-fifth of them have been sent by the central government and the rest from local governments, said Guy Marty, chairman of the association.

The French training programmes cover a wide range of fields, including grape planting, the French agricultural market, operation of supermarkets and management of large enterprises.

The training, however, works two ways.

Many countries use the exchanges as a way to give Chinese officials an opportunity to better understand them.

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