Domestic Affairs

One million reasons

By Linda Gibson (
Updated: 2010-05-13 10:04
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Beijing officials are busy with a plan they hope will bolster the city’s reputation, proposing to give 1 million yuan to each of 200 professionals from overseas who agree to work here.

One of the people pushing this plan called the money an “incentive” and said attracting talent from around the globe is the mark of a world city.

He’s correct about that. But I don’t think it is a right way to go about it

The so-called incentive, as I see it, is actually a kind of bribe. And offering such an “”incentive” is a mark of desperation, not the kind of self-confident behavior likely to attract ambitious, talented people.

Instead, it may attract the greediest, if the recruits came purely for the money.

It’s true that greedy people might also be very talented. But unless the “incentive” continue, they aren’t likely to stay an hour longer than the six-month stints asked of them. This means higher costs and continual disruption in workplaces, as more people will have to be recruited to replace those who leave.

The requirement that candidates be under 55 also is strange, at least to people from the United States. In developed countries, people aged 55 are still considered middle-aged. Here, they’re called “elderly.”

What makes a city cosmopolitan and world-class are people from all over the globe who choose to settle there and make it their home, not those who dash in and out.

Most likely, the people who came up with this policy have very limited, if any, experience themselves in living outside of China. They ought to try it. Those who have would know that this kind of policy makes Beijing look backward.