How China’s “sea turtles” will crush the US economy
"Sea turtles,” or haigui, is the Mandarin term for overseas-educated Chinese who come home from abroad. And come home they will, says a recent study from China’s Ministry of Education.
BEIJING, China — Some of China’s brightest “sea turtles” are turning down opportunities in Silicon Valley to make a splash in their country’s emerging tech sector.
After working at top American companies, a growing group of these skilled engineers and managers have returned to help make China’s technology firms world class.
“Sea turtles,” or haigui, is the Mandarin term for overseas-educated Chinese who come home from abroad.
As the number of Chinese students at US universities surged to 158,000 last year, the number of “sea turtles” has also surged, with 135,000 re-entering China in 2010 — a quarter more than 2009 — according to China’s Ministry of Education.
Call it “reverse brain drain.” As America has drastically cut the number of work visas available to foreigners — from 195,000 a decade ago to roughly 65,000 now — more educated foreigners have left the US, taking their skills with them. Most never look back: in a 2011 survey by the US-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, over 80 percent of Chinese who returned said that there were more opportunities at home than in the US.