From The Los Angeles Times:
Most Americans believe that their US citizenship is the dream of every other person living outside of America. It is true that hordes of people from around the world still want to immigrate to America and do so, but it probably isn't alluring as it has been at other times in history.
Reporting from Shanghai and Los Angeles -- Xun Jia, a doctoral candidate in theoretical physics at UCLA, expected to find a job on Wall Street crunching complex financial formulas upon his graduation.
But after meeting with 10 recruiters to no avail, the Chinese native is looking for new opportunities -- in the country he left behind.
"I'm definitely considering moving back," said Jia, 27, who always envisioned himself establishing a career in the U.S. first but is now firing off his resume to contacts in China. "They need people to go back."
The Chinese government is counting on people like Jia -- nicknamed "sea turtles" because they journeyed across the ocean and then came back -- to help retool its economy and find paths to expansion beyond the cheap exports on which the country has relied for so many years.
Late last year, the government launched an aggressive campaign to lure them back and is spending millions to entice accomplished investors, bankers, researchers and engineers to come home.
As one Chinese man stated in this LA Times article:
"You can find most things you were used to in the U.S. in Shanghai now," said Greg Ye, a graduate of Harvard Business School who returned to found NewMargin Venture, a private equity fund. "I feel like there's lots more opportunity here."Now I'm not going to try to argue that China is a better place than America or anything. I'm just pointing out that the creature comforts that define America's lifestyle can now be found in many major Chinese cities.
While a Chinese person living in Shanghai may not have the "freedoms" that he or she would have living in New York City, there are other benefits (such as culture, language, food, being closer to family and friends, etc.) that are reasons for a Chinese person to want to stay in China. And although China is not immune to the economic crisis, things are probably going to be better for a US-educated Chinese person in Shanghai than it would be in, say, New York City.
This issue does hit close to home with me. My fiancee, Qian (Jackie's given Chinese name, pronounced like this), and I are planning on making the transition from China to America later this year.
We're excited about this next stage in our life and the life we can begin in America, but it has never been Qian's dream to go to America. She's never disliked America , but at the same time, it's not been one of her goals in life to go to one day go to the United States. She'd be perfectly happy if we stayed in China for the rest of our lives.
I believe that America has lost some of its appeal to foreigners in the past few years. The economic crisis has a lot to do with this, but I believe it is even deeper than that.
One shining example of this is while I was back in America in 2007, I was charged $1,500 for a blood test at a hospital. I couldn't believe this at the time and thought that there had to be a mistake. We called the insurance company and the hospital to see if the charge was an error. After a few phone calls, we found out that it wasn't. A freaking blood test actually cost $1,500.
As upset as my family and I were about this, Qian nearly lost it. I can still remember her saying, "You had to pay over 10,000RMB for a blood test! What is wrong with your country?!" I didn't have a very good answer for her. A similar procedure in China would cost less than 100RMB, or about $10.
Medical care is only one area where America has really lost its edge. With the recent economic crisis, the list is nearly endless.
Qian and I are still excited about going to America later this year. But it is, by no means, a fairy tale-like story of Qian leaving repressive China for the "land of the free." Qian's life has been very comfortable in China and she doesn't necessarily feel as though she's "upgrading" by going to America.
With the directions the two countries are heading, I'd be lying if I tried to convince her otherwise.