In November 2011, I received an email from an individual in China. Nearly every week, I receive many emails from Chinese prototyping, tooling, and injection molding companies trying to sell their services. They go into my spam control filter so that I never receive email from them again. This one, however, was different. It was from a well known engineering university in Beijing, one that many refer to as China’s “MIT.” I have a number of friends and acquaintances at this university, so I read it and this is what it said:
“How are you getting along? I have read each issue of your reports carefully and feel that they are wonderful and outstanding. Would you like to cooperate with me? Nowadays, Chinese government has released a new policy to attract foreign experts with very high salary (1 million RMB a year, ten times higher than ordinary professors in China). The only limitations are that the proposer must be below 65 years old and he/she must work at least 9 months a year in China (from 2012.1 to 2014). Would you like to have a try? You are welcome to China and I am looking forward to hearing from you.”
It got my attention, not because I was interested in the offer, but because of what the Chinese government is now doing to accelerate its standing in science and technology. Having been told years ago how much a Chinese university professor receives annually, I knew that it was not a lot, by U.S. standards. Ten times this amount, though, might interest some people. One million Chinese yuan (RMB) is about $159,000, which could attract bright, energetic, and reasonably well-connected and experienced professionals. It could certainly be an interesting and educational three years for them.
I thanked the person inviting me and politely declined. I bumped into her at EuroMold five weeks later and it became entirely clear that the invitation was indeed sincere. One can only guess how many similar invitations, maybe hundreds or thousands, that have gone to others. It’s an alarming strategy that China has put in place.