Chinese Scientists Are Buying Return Tickets


(Bloomberg Opinion) -- China’s most sprawling effort at revealing the universe’s deepest mysteries is a 1,640-foot-wide silver dish that settles comfortably between hills in a remote part of the country’s southwest. The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope is more sensitive than any telescope on Earth. This month, the Chinese go nment announced that it had begun formal operations. FAST is expected to further human understanding of gravitational waves and cosmic rays, and — just possibly — detect extraterrestrial communications. But for the Chinese go nment, which spent $180 million on the massive instrument, the most important return on its investment will be the homecoming of Chinese scientists who have been living and researching abroad.


According to a recent study in the journal Science and Public Policy, it’s been happening for a while. The number of Chinese scientists who departed the U.S. for China in 2017 was 69% higher than 2010 departures. The factors driving this phenomenon are complex but come down to the Chinese go nment’s decades-long investments in scientific education, research and facilities like FAST. Those efforts are likely to accelerate the return of China’s scientists in coming years, and they will bring economic, geopolitical and cultural benefits with them. In time, they could challenge the preeminence of American science.


A rising tide of returnees was not preordained. As recently as the late 1970s, China’s universities and its science were a shambles.  To narrow the gap, ....China’s reformist leader, resolved to send thousands of students abroad. Eventually, he hoped, a few might come back and make improvements. As of 2017, China had allowed, and often paid for, 5.2 million students to get better educations abroad.


China also invested extensively in universities and university enrollment, creating the world’s largest (and improving) population of engineers and scientists, while funding research and development at world-beating rates. From 2000 to 2017, Chinese spending on research and development grew more than 17% per year, compared with 4.3% per year in the U.S. The Americans kept a slim lead in total spending — the U.S.  accounted for 25% of global R&D spending in 2017, compared with 23% for China — but that gap is narrowing (and may have flipped in China’s favor in 2019).



Spending is an imperfect measure of scientific leadership, but there’s no question that China has earned dividends from its efforts. Today it’s in the global vanguard for key fields, including artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and biotechnology.


Those advances won’t bring back all of the young talent that’s left China over the decades — the U.S. is still the world’s scientific superpower — but they certainly help. The FAST facility is a good example of how this might work. Chinese scientists have been involved in radio astronomy for decades. But because the biggest and best radio telescopes were all abroad — notably, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico — Chinese radio scientists were reliant upon host scientists and countries for research opportunities and collaborators. The commissioning of FAST flips the tables. Li Di, FAST’s chief scientist, earned his doctorate at Cornell University, and previously worked as a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Now he’s in China. International collaborators will be welcome at FAST, but China will set the agenda, allot the telescope time, and — ultimately — reap the bulk of the benefits.


In the Science and Public Policy study released in December, researchers traced the career paths of Chinese scientists via the addresses associated with their scientific publications (a necessary approach, because of the lack of reliable data on either side of the Pacific). In 2017, 4,569 Chinese scientists left the U.S. for China, compared with 2,703 in 2010. Even more notable than the scale of the return is the quality. Twelve percent of China’s scientific publications were written by scientists with overseas experience, and the share of high impact publications — those that are regularly cited by other scientists — is higher than peers who remained in China. Those scientists, in turn, train younger Chinese scientists and connect them to the increasingly global nature of scientific inquiry in the 21st century.


For now, there is still more talent flowing into the U.S. than out of it. But the quickening uptick of China’s scientific returnees should serve as a powerful reminder that scientific superpower status requires constant investment and a commitment to openness and collaboration across borders. For decades, the U.S. has attracted and benefited from Chinese scientific talent because it made those commitments. China’s research investments mean that the U.S. needs to reaffirm them, or risk ceding its accustomed role as the world's undisputed scientific leader.



译文来源:三泰虎     http://www.santaihu.com/49212.html      译者:Joyceliu 

William L

Chinese scientists contribute immensely to the US. They like to settle in the US because it offers them complete fre m and a nice environment to raise their families. But with the current rising anti-immigrant and anti-Chinese sentiments, they are treated more and more like 2nd class citizens and they might rethink. Living in China has its some disadvantages but it's not as bad as westerners might think. In fact, Chinese societies have become more free now




China graduates ~11 times as many STEM students as the US.

Here's a set of numbers that are never reported in the American MSM ... this might explain the trend.





China has a central go nment that has long term economic plans. First it was China as the rice basket (agriculture), which worked horribly as not all land was suited for rice back . Then it was China as the world's factory which succeeded beyond ALL expectations as most goods we see in supermarkets now are "Made in China". The economic plan unveiled over 10 years ago was Invented in China. That's why the R&D investment. If they succeed in this, the USA is screwed. They have more people, who work harder than most American students, and the good ones they sent here to learn our ways are taking our teachings back to China to educate a new generation .... I am worried because it's well known Chinese Scholars are relentless and hardworking.




Considering the state of America’s educational system, losing our status as a world leader in science is a forgone conclusion. We have squandered the opportunity to develop a scientifically literate society by not investing in our future.



Chef Of The Future

Yeah, the Chinese have a LOT more math and science students...but look at where WE have the advantage. Meth labs. Rap stars. "Alternative facts". It's funny how some people think it's a good idea to deny science. So while the Chinese scientists are returning home to pursue science. So what? They'll never beat our Noah's arc "museum".




In the US, athletes get paid millions and billions while scientists getting peanuts.




How did America become the world’s leading superpower in science and technology??

By plundering all of Germany after World War 2, forcing thousands of Germans scientists to work for the US or else threaten them with war crimes charges. The US then went in a university building spree after 1945 in order to foster a population that could make sense of all the stolen technology from the Germans. Non-military, industrial secrets and equipment were auctioned off to the public. Read an article in Harper Magazine published in October 1946 titled “Secrets by the Thousands.”





China invests in science while we invest in tax handouts to the rich.




Chinese scientists are being looked through suspicious glasses for decades. It's getting much worse since the trade war started, many of them just plan depressed and distrusted where they are working for. So, rather being treated as second class citizen, why not just go back to China with dignity?! In China, they have better chance to grow with full potential and being grateful.




Our administration prefers spending on warfare over R&D and innovation, and our private sectors are controlled by Wall Street chasing after short term profit. It is a matter of time that we will be left behind if we don't change our ways of doing things.




Instead of science and engineering, today’s US education is more focusing on the topics of diversity, whatever-ism, LGBTXXXX, non-binary, etc. Both teachers and students enjoy this kind of subjects because you can pass by talking blah blah blah your opinions and enjoying attention when talking. People here don’t want hard technical stuff.




Technology needs to flow in both directions to be beneficial each other.




I wonder how many foreign students are allowed to study in China?




This is how the Japanese became a manufacturing and economic superpower.




another reason is because china is paying MUCH higher salaries than if the scientists remained here in the US. In china you get paid well by doing science. Not true in america!




Say what you want, China is doing what the US did in the past and for some reason lost our way and with the present administration that hates science, America is doomed to fail. China is doing what America did many many years ago. If we do not change, we are DOOMED.




Lure them back with bigly incentives and fre m to explore their full potential. Just chinese working there would be sufficient. Now is the time to bring them home




look at how bad asian men are treated in this country on the media and in reality. that is the reason why Chinese scientists are leaving. there is no feeling of a home for them.




Those highly inquisitive and talented people we call as scientists have no known national or geographical boundaries . They will be there as long as there are scientific challenges and .the means to do their works . They belong to all of us ! .




American students are good about vaping, drug, Social science, justice, art, psychology, those majors only require English speaking.




China worships scientists. America worships Kardashians.




Imagine when the best and brightest PhD immigrant candidates don’t stay in the US anymore. And I’m not talking just the Chinese. Indian, Russian, European,...what are you left with?




Americans don’t want to study math and sciences because they are too difficult.



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