Haigui (simplified Chinese: 海归; traditional Chinese: 海歸; pinyin: hǎiguī) is a Chinese language slang term for Chinese nationals who have returned to mainland China after having studied abroad. These graduates from foreign universities used to be highly sought out by employers in China, but at least one study has indicated they are now less likely to receive callback from jobs compared to Chinese students with a Chinese degree, possibly because of several reasons, such as the rising of the standings of domestic education institutions and the salary demands of haigui are considered unrealistically high by some employers.
Former citizens of China who have renounced their citizenship, but have relocated to the country in pursuit of career-opportunities, also commonly regard themselves as Haigui, but this usage is not recognized to the same extent by the Chinese public.
Some haigui have returned to China due to the late-2000s recession in the U.S. and Europe. According to PRC government statistics, only a quarter of the 1.2 million Chinese people who have gone abroad to study in the past 30 years have returned. As MIT Sloan School of Management professor Yasheng Huang, an American, states:
The Chinese educational system is terrible at producing workers with innovative skills for Chinese economy. It produces people who memorize existing facts rather than discovering new facts; who fish for existing solutions rather than coming up with new ones; who execute orders rather than inventing new ways of doing things. In other words they do not solve problems for their employers.
The word is a pun, as hai 海 means "ocean" and gui 龟; 龜 is a homophone of gui 归; 歸 meaning "to return". The name was first used by Ren Hong, a young man returning to China as a graduate of Yale University seven years after leaving aboard a tea freighter from Guangzhou to the United States.
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- Zhou Enlai first premier and foreign minister of People's Republic of China
- Deng Xiaoping Chief Secretary of China's Communist Party and President of People's Republic of China
- Qian Xuesen father of the Chinese rocket program
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