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Monday, May 29, 2000, updated at 12:05(GMT+8)

China's Western Development Woos back Overseas Talent

China has attracted many students studying abroad to come back and sponsor high-tech enterprises in the southwest thanks to the country's strategy to develop its vast western areas.

James Zhao, 32, has just returned from the United States. He sponsored a 150,000-US-dollar high-tech firm in the Chengdu Scientific and Technological Park in Sichuan Province.

An Internet security system developed by the company is expected to be turned out later this year. The system will provide advanced techniques to prevent hackers and high-tech crimes.

"This is the happiest time of my life," said Zhao, "I can use my knowledge gained from abroad to serve my own country."

Zhao went to the United States for advanced studies in 1992 after graduating from Chongqing University. Zhao got a master's degree from the US Michigan University and then worked at Merrill Lynch as a deputy executive, with a yearly wage of over 100,000 US dollars.

"I'd like to create my own business here despite the hardships and inconveniences," said Zhao.

The Chinese government has worked out a series of preferential policies to woo back students studying overseas. High-tech parks and gardens designated for these students have mushroomed in many provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

In January this year, Chengdu took the lead in China to set up a park in the high-tech zone for people with master's and doctor's degrees to do research projects.

The local government has decided to allocate one million yuan(US$0.12 million) initially for these students in the next three years in addition to venture investment fund worth 10 million yuan(US$1.2 million).

Yao Yi, who got his bioengineering doctor's degree from Washington University in the United States, finally decided to set up a high-tech company in the zone after conducting an inspection tour around China.

"China's western areas are a large undeveloped virgin soil which offers more privileges in setting up businesses than areas in eastern China," said 38-year-old Yao, a native of Fujian Province in east China.

His company is focusing on developing an anti-tumor radiation treatment planning system which uses lasers to locate cancer cells. The product costing millions of yuan has been sold to the United States and Germany.

Tang Xiaohai, who returned to China from the Japanese National Cancer Center Hospital, has developed a series of new medicines in cooperation with some researchers in Chengdu University of Science and Technology.

Some of these medicines and technologies have filled gaps in China's own medical field, including the activated carbon particle suspension lymphatic tracer. Once the tracer is injected into patients who have lymph, the area becomes black in a minute, thus helping doctors to locate and remove the lymph.

So far, 46 returned overseas students have set up 33 enterprises in the Chengdu High-Tech Zone and 60 more are due to be established.

Incomplete statistics showed that nearly 20,000 students from Sichuan are currently studying overseas and some 4,000 of them have returned to China.

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China has attracted many students studying abroad to come back and sponsor high-tech enterprises in the southwest thanks to the country's strategy to develop its vast western areas.

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