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China’s Revived Tech Talent Recruitment Sparks Concerns over Intellectual Property Protection

China’s revival of its tech talent recruitment strategy, previously embodied by the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP), and its subsequent rebranding as the Qiming initiative.

China’s discreet efforts to attract elite foreign-trained scientists and experts in sensitive technological fields and the potential concerns surrounding intellectual property protection. (Photo: Taipei Times)

Qiming Initiative’s Stealthy Pursuit of Foreign Expertise

South China Morning Post – In the wake of a decade-long effort to attract elite foreign-trained scientists through the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP), China has quietly rekindled its pursuit of top-tier talent in the tech talent recruitment sector under a new name and approach. The renewed initiative, known as Qiming, is part of China’s broader push to enhance its technological prowess, according to sources familiar with the matter and a Reuters analysis of government documents spanning 2019 to 2023.

Qiming offers substantial incentives to entice skilled professionals in the tech talent recruitment field, including subsidies for home purchases and signing bonuses ranging from 3 to 5 million yuan (approximately US$420,000 to US$700,000). Unlike its predecessor, Qiming operates with discretion in the realm of tech talent recruitment, avoiding publicity and central government platforms, which sources claim is indicative of its sensitive nature.

The initiative is primarily overseen by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and it targets scientific and technological experts in the tech talent recruitment sector, including those in sensitive and classified domains like semiconductors. The push for tech talent recruitment aligns with President Xi Jinping’s call for semiconductor self-reliance, prompted by US export restrictions and regulations inhibiting advanced chip development in China.

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China’s Tech Talent Drive Amidst Intellectual Property Concerns and National Security Debates

According to the article of REUTERS, despite accusations from the US of intellectual property theft, China maintains that its recruitment efforts uphold innovation-driven economic growth while respecting intellectual property rights in the tech talent recruitment arena. The State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declined to comment on Qiming.

The revival of China’s talent recruitment drive underscores its commitment to achieving technological autonomy through tech talent recruitment. However, concerns linger over the protection of intellectual property rights amidst such initiatives in tech talent recruitment, with critics suggesting that curbing leakage of proprietary knowledge through talent acquisition remains a complex endeavor.

Dean Boyd, a spokesperson for the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, noted that acquiring foreign talent can pose risks to economic and national security when conflicts of interest arise. Nick Marro, a China analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, emphasized the difficulty of preventing intellectual property leakage without devolving into contentious situations.

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