Society of Fellows in the Humanities Lecture Series 2022–2023
China's Reverse Migration: Towards a Theory of Shortage
Date: 14 November 2022 (Monday) Time: 9PM (HKT) Delivery: via Zoom
Zoom details: All are welcome.
Speakers: Professor David Zweig, Professor Emeritus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Taipei School of Economics and Political Science, National Tsinghua University, Taiwan
Moderator: Dr. Pete Millwood, Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, HKU
Drawing on surveys, interviews and documentary searches, and employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, Dr. Zweig's presentation shows that a key to understanding the process of reverse migration of talent back to China is to focus on what he calls "a theory of shortage."
As several returned scientists, academics, and entrepreneurs remarked almost 20 years ago, the strategy they employed when they went abroad and the key to their successful return to China was their ability to find a skill or a technology which was in short supply in China and thereby gave them a comparative advantage vis-a-vis locals who had not gone abroad in China's marketplace or in China's scientific or academic institutions.
Even younger people who went abroad for shorter periods of time for an MA or an undergraduate degree found that the skills they developed abroad are an important part of their "transnational human capital," and greatly affect their satisfaction with their lives and their work.
Dr. Zweig suggests that this phenomenon demonstrates the reasons for returnees' success as well as for China's technological progress in catching up with the West.
David Zweig (Ph.D., The University of Michigan, 1983) is Professor Emeritus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Taipei School of Economics and Political Science, National Tsinghua University, Taiwan. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard in 1984-85. He lived in Hong Kong from 1996 to 2019 and now lives in New York with his family. Zweig studied in Beijing in 1974-1976 and did field research in rural China in 1980-1981 and 1986 and explored the internationalization of southern Jiangsu Province in 1991-1997. Since 1991, he has surveyed and interviewed returned academics, scientists, entrepreneurs, and employees all over China as well as those who have remained abroad. He has authored or edited ten books, including Internationalizing China (Cornell University Press). Almost 35,000 students have taken his two online classes with COURSERA on domestic Chinese Politics and on China and the World.