America’s tougher immigration stance under the Trump administration could benefit China, as the latter may be in a position to attract more global talent, experts have hypothesized.
Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. government has indicated its intention to continue tightening control over immigration for the foreseeable future. This controversial position has not only upset the international community, it has also created a chance for China to successfully recruit more foreign experts from around the world, which is especially important given China's focus on innovation and aging population, suggested experts at a seminar held by the Center for China & Globalization (CCG) on Feb. 22.
“Trump’s Muslim ban has confirmed his attitude [toward immigrants], which has been received with great angst by the international community. The policy has caused a disturbance among immigrants in U.S., but it will be a good opportunity for China,” said Wang Huiyao, president of CCG.
Closed door for the dreamers
As a country founded by immigrants, the U.S. has long enjoyed the demographic dividends and cutting-edge technologies developed by talents from around the world. According to the CCG report, one-third of innovation patents granted in the U.S. are given to immigrants, while the country attracts around 270,000 professional immigrants each year due to favorable immigration policies.
But the traditional welcome immigrants are used to receiving in America is about to change, as President Trump enacts more of his policies. With an executive order released in January and a pair of Department of Homeland Security memos sent on Feb. 21, the Trump administration clearly demonstrated its intent to narrow access to the U.S.
“For immigrants in the U.S., the future may be dim, as tightened policies could make it hard for them to stay in the country,” said Wang.
The new immigration policies will affect the issuance of all kinds of visas.
“For instance, the U.S. government may carry out field investigations of L-1 visa holders to determine their legitimacy, and airport authorities may make it difficult for green card holders to enter the U.S. if they haven’t lived here continuously,” Qiang Bjornbak, a Chinese-American lawyer and steering committee member of the ABA International Law Section Immigration and Naturalization Committee, was quoted as saying by CCG.
“Trump’s tougher policies makes immigrants feel unwelcome. While the U.S. is tightening its immigration policy, China is adopting a more open attitude toward global talents,” Wang said.
Embrace global talents
Unlike the conservative stance of U.S. immigration authorities, the Chinese government has been trying to attract more international talent in recent years. In 2012, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, along with 24 other governmental sectors, issued a document regulating applications for Chinese permanent residence. Since then, the country has been opening its borders to global talent wider and wider.
During a reform group meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping in February, Chinese authorities said they would relax their rules for issuing permanent residence status to foreigners in China. According to the Xinhua News Agency, 1,576 foreigners became permanent residents in 2016, an increase of 163 percent from the previous year.
Though China's openness to global talent still lags significantly behind that of the U.S., China has been gradually shifting its stance, which will definitely enlarge its talent pool, experts stated, adding that China’s aging population, relatively low birth rate and reasonably competitive salaries all work in China's favor.
Wang believes China should establish a specific government organ to deal with immigration issues, which are currently controlled by several sectors. The country should also broaden channels for foreigners to work and live in China, as well as amending and making new laws to ensure their rights.
“China should not only attract professionals such as doctors and professors, but also skilled technicians and even those without a bachelor's degree. People over 60 should also be considered if they are eligible,” suggested Hu Bengang, an expert from CCG.