China has one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The history of Chinese people who went abroad for study and returned with new knowledge and cultural outlooks is equally impressive. Based on an elite education system and influenced by Confucian philosophy, it has been an ancient tradition for Chinese scholars to serve the country after they exceled in academic study. This chapter examines the phenomenon of the Chinese returnees in the globalization era of the twenty-first century. It will first review the recent history of Chinese returnees in politics, survey their educational background, overseas experience and career development, and then assess the roles they played and the impacts of their contributions on China’s modernization drive. Although currently only a small number hold high-ranking positions, Chinese returnees have grown to become an important social force with increasing political influence in contemporary China.
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