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298 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997© 1997 by University ofHawai'i Press David Zweig and Chen Changgui, with the assistance ofStanley Rosen. China's Brain Drain to the United States: Views ofOverseas Chinese Students and Scholars in the 1990s. Chinese Research Monograph 47. Berkeley: Institute ofEast Asian Studies, University ofCalifornia, 1995. viii, 133 pp. Paperback, isbn 1-55729-049-0. In the recurring debate over immigration policy, the focus is usually on whether immigrants benefit the U.S. economy. Until recendy, there was hardly any discussion ofhow their departure and, in some cases, return, affects the immigrants' native country. Almost none ofthe discussion has been on the implications of this coming and going for America's foreign policy aims for a given country of emigration, such as the advancement ofcapitalism and democracy—objectives that are usuaUy seen working in tandem. IdeaUy, each returning person who has been educated in the United States constitutes a subversive element who implicitly promotes economic change and serves as a tacit advocate for democratic reforms . In the case offhe People's Republic of China, fhat would occur when a returning Chinese teaches a new generation ofstudents and applies what has been learned or conducts basic research—creating smaU environments (xiao huanjing) for reform. But with little more than 5 percent of Chinese students and scholars presendy returning home, it is unlikely that this expectation will be met any time soon. Meanwhüe, the United States benefits from China's "best and brightest" choosing to live and work here, contributing significantly to our economy, particularly the "high tech" sector, and serving as exemplary models of Emma Lazarus' immigrants "yearning to breathe free." David Zweig and Chen Changgui's research monograph on why Chinese students and scholars have decided to remain in the United States rather than return to China addresses these important issues and more. Besides fhe tragic Tiananmen massacre, Which discouraged many from going back to China, and President Bush's Executive Order 12711 (11 April 1990), which encouraged diem to stay, Zweig and Chen have found a complex ofreasons for the decision ofthese students to remain here. Their research indicates fhat "the economic gap between East and West, die political instabUity in China in die late 1980s, the continuing concerns about the post-Deng transition, and the desires oftalented people for an environment in which fhey can develop and use fheir skiUs have all come together to generate China's brain drain" (p. 85). They arrive at this conclusion through a multivariate logistic regression analysis of statistical data collected through a 105question interview schedule completed by 273 Chinese students, scholars, and odiers residing in the United States, and supplemented widi personal interviews. Reviews 299 Before any comment can be made on the substance oftheir work, it is germane to observe that it is unclear which author was responsible for what. In their Acknowledgments section, they note that Chen wrote a preliminary draft in Chinese , and Zweig borrowed from it (rather than simply translating it) to produce the English draft. Furthermore, they say that one person's perspective may prevail over the other's. Given what is known about the repressive regime in China and its propensity to retaliate against its critics, die ambiguity may have been intended to protect themselves. In any case, as the discussion below indicates, the ambiguity makes it difficult to evaluate fhe methodology and results ofthe study. IfZweig and Chen's methodology has a flaw, it is their dominant hypothesis that economic factors were foremost in the decision by Chinese students and scholars to remain in the United States. Even though their initial results indicated that concern about "political stability and the high valuation ofthe political freedom avaüable in the United States" (p. 62) were keeping Chinese students and scholars here, they conducted additional research to prove otherwise. Inferring from post-interview comments that the real reason was economic rather than political , they asked fifty interviewees: "Some people say that the main reason most people don't return is political reasons; others say it is economic. What do you drink it is?" (p. 62). Thirty-five of the respondents believed fhat the motive was economic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 298-300
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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