Promoting a Scientific Outlook on Talent

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-07-04 14:45
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The CPC has gradually developed a scientific outlook on talent throughout the course of its initiatives since the launch of the reform and opening up drive, and particularly since the Party’s Sixteenth and Seventeenth National Congresses. This scientific outlook on talent is the product of efforts to integrate and apply the Scientific Outlook of Development in the talent initiatives of the Party, and is an action guide for us to make our initiatives in this regard more scientific. We must make concerted efforts to publicize our scientific outlook on talent in order to forge the consensus that is needed to boost China’s development as a country with leading human resources. We must, both now and in the period of time to come, give priority to the publicity and implementation of important principles regarding talent in the following 10 aspects.

1. Talent is the most active advanced productive force. According to the Marxist theory of historical materialism, science and technology are the primary productive forces for economic development and social progress, while human resources are the most active element of these productive forces. The most advanced constituent of human resources is talent, who assume the primary responsibility for scientific and technological innovation. Creative contributions to economic and social development are what make talent the most active advanced productive force. There are numerous examples of such contributions: after enlisting the talents of Shi Zhengrong from Australia, Jiangsu Province was able to establish one of the most advanced solar power industries in the world within the space of just several years; with the help of Peng Xiaofeng from Suzhou, the city of Xinyu in Jiangxi Province soon became home to a large-scale producer of polycrystalline silicon cells and silicon materials. When Deng Xiaoping told us to emancipate our minds and be creative in our development of Marxism, he did so with the contemporary assertion that science and technology are a primary productive force. Deng Xiaoping emphasized the importance of creating within the Party and in the whole society an atmosphere of respect for knowledge and talent. Talent is the primary medium through which science and technology are realized. Therefore, with a clear understanding of the key role that talent plays in the creation and development of advanced productive forces, we must work constantly to emancipate our minds, emancipate talent, and emancipate the productive forces of science and technology.

Chen Xing (second on the left), a 24-year-old “village official” in Liu Jiachang Village, Shihe Town, Dazhu County, Sichuan Province, used the internet to teach villagers new techniques for growing and maintaining cucumbers whilst monitoring the status of vegetable markets on April 16, 2009. There are currently 1,000 university students acting as “village officials” throughout the rural areas of Dazhou City in Sichuan Province. Taking local conditions into consideration, these students apply their specialist knowledge by encouraging villagers, and particularly the 100,000 returned rural migrants, to develop distinctive plantation and cultivation industries in local areas, thereby helping them to boost their incomes. / Xinhua (Photo by Deng Liangkui)

2. Talent is the primary resource for scientific development. China is a populous country with insufficient land. As such, China’s vast human resources constitute its greatest potential resource. The most valuable of all human resources is talent. In China’s case, talent is not only an essential resource for scientific development, but also the most viable. As the economy grows, science and technology progress, and the population becomes more educated, China is set to witness a rapid increase in both the overall scale and the caliber of its talent pool. When Jiang Zemin introduced the important thought of Three Represents, he asserted that talent was the most important resource for the development of a country and a primary resource. With continued efforts to implement the strategy of reinvigorating the country through the development of human resources since the convening of the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, the role of talent as a pillar of scientific development is becoming increasingly apparent. By the end of 2010, the scale of China’s talent pool was approximately 120 million people. In the same year, the contribution of human capital to China’s economic growth reached 32.6%, of which 26.6% was attributable to talent. General Secretary Hu Jintao has emphasized the role of talent as a primary resource, calling it a strategic resource for national development. Guided by a strong commitment to this scientific principle, we must work hard to foster talent, introduce talent, and make the best use of talent. We must shift our edge from human resources towards talent, and draw on talent as a means of securing the edge in scientific development.

3. Initiatives regarding talent should serve the core task of economic and social development. Our initiatives in regard to talent must revolve around the core task of economic and social development and serve the overall interests of the country. Our initiatives in regard to talent will only be of worth once they are conducive to fostering, attracting, and making good use of talented personnel in line with the core task of economic and social development. In line with the arrangements of the central government, we have made solid efforts to serve China’s overall interests through talent-related initiatives since the convening of the Seventeenth National Party Congress. These efforts have included formulating a national plan for the medium and long-term development of talent, launching major talent schemes to recruit the high-end overseas talent that China desperately needs to underpin its development, and dispatching experts and scholars to advise localities in their efforts to respond to the international financial crisis and transform the pattern of economic growth. We must continue to regard serving scientific development as the fundamental task of our talent-related initiatives. On this basis, we should approach our work in keeping with the goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accelerating China’s modernization, and evaluate our efforts on the basis of tangible achievements in serving economic development and social progress.

4. The priority development of talent is an effective approach to scientific development. Strategies that prioritize the cultivation of talent are a proven means for developing countries to catch up with modernized countries. This approach has also been vindicated by the spearhead development of China’s developed eastern regions. In line with the goal of establishing China as a country with leading human resources, we have stepped up our investment in the cultivation of talent since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, with the emphasis being on the cultivation of creative talent in science and technology and the cultivation of the talent needed to underpin key areas of economic and social development. These efforts have led to a notable increase in our capacity for independent innovation, thereby boosting the transformation of our pattern of economic growth. At the national conference on talent, General Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out that we must establish a strategy that prioritizes the development of talent in economic and social development. Under this strategy, we should strive to prioritize the cultivation of talent, prioritize the adjustment of the talent structure, prioritize investment in talent, and prioritize institutional innovation concerning talent. In accordance with these requirements, we must take steps to integrate the strategy of prioritizing talent into our plans for economic and social development as well as our major policies and work arrangements. Doing so will allow us to draw on the priority development of talent as both an engine and a foundation for China’s rapid and robust economic and social development.

5. All individuals have talents that can be realized. The idea that everyone can realize their talents not only embodies the Marxist theory of historical materialism, which maintains that the masses are the creators of history, but also highlights the notion of putting people first, which is the core of the Scientific Outlook on Development. The Chinese nation has long held to the belief that talent comes in all shapes and forms. Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin repeatedly emphasized that outstanding talent are born from the people, and that only a broad mass base can generate a continued flow of talent. At the national conference on talent, General Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out that all individuals should be able to fulfill their full potential and value, and that efforts should be made to ensure that everyone may use their talents for the benefit of the motherland, the people, and the nation. Since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, we have further stressed that performance and contribution should be the primary criteria for the evaluation of talent, as opposed to just education, title, qualification, and status. This has been met with widespread public support. By avoiding rigid criteria in the selection, cultivation, and use of talent, we are able to ensure that all individuals have the chance to hone their talents, that ambitious individuals are given space to develop, and that all individuals who contribute to the country and the people are treated with respect.

6. Utilization is an important principle in the development of talent. Whereas scientific development puts people first, the development of talent should lay emphasis on utilization. As a unique form of resource, the value of talent depends entirely on its application. The more individuals are utilized the more adept they become; the more people are utilized the more their talents will be brought into play. Since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, we have identified the proper and active utilization of talent as a core aspect of our initiatives in regard to talent. On this basis, we have cultivated talent through the process of utilization, recruited talent for the specific purpose of utilization, and used utilization as a means of incentive, thereby bringing the assertiveness and creativity of various types of talent into full play. In an effort to apply the scientific outlook on talent, we must regard the proper and active utilization of talent as an ongoing theme, and work hard to address problems such as the shortage of talent and the inappropriate and insufficient application of talent, so as to ensure that all forms of talent used where, when, and how they should be.

7. Investment in talent is the most profitable form of investment. Research from various countries has proven that investment in talent, which includes investment in education, is the most profitable form of investment that can be made. At the national conference on talent, Premier Wen Jiabao called investment in talent a strategic investment for the future, emphasizing that as the most profitable form of investment, it is an area in which we should be prepared to invest. Various localities and departments from around the country have taken increasingly active steps to invest in talent since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang have been the first to experience the benefits of increased investment in talent, so they have increased their investment several fold over recent years. Some cities in central and western regions have also taken steps to increase their investment in talent. There are almost countless examples of how investments in talent have led to exponential gains. Therefore, we must do even more to establish the notion that human capital is a highly effective form of capital, and that investment in talent is the most profitable form of investment. In addition to increasing government investment in talent, we must also encourage the public domain, employers, and individual investors to invest in the cultivation of talent, thereby establishing a diverse range of mechanisms for investment in the development of talent.

8. High-end personnel play a leading role in the development of talent. Fact has demonstrated that high-end personnel play a pivotal role in development, setting the direction for the development of talent contingents. Without Qian Xuesen, China’s space program would not be where it is today, nor would it have such a large wealth of talent; without Li Siguang, China’s oil deficiency would have gone on; without Wang Xuan, China’s printing industry would not have made the transition from traditional printing techniques to laser phototypesetting; and without Yuan Longping, we would not enjoy steadily high yields of hybrid rice. Leading talent play a role that cannot be replaced by ordinary people. Today, China is making rapid progress in its efforts to establish itself as an innovative country. However, though our contingent of talent continues to grow ever larger, we are still facing a shortage of high-end talent, and particularly leading talent. This situation dictates that we must continue to implement our policy of exerting the leading role of high-end talent while developing an overall pool of talent. Focusing on the cultivation of high-end talent and skilled personnel in science and technology, we should work to strengthen our overall contingent of talent by fostering world-class scientists and leaders in science and technology; global talent with an international perspective and a mastery of international principles; outstanding entrepreneurs with global insight, market acumen, a capacity for management and innovation, and a sense of social responsibility; and highly skilled personnel with technical mastery and unique skills.

9. Talent should be cultivated in a systematic manner. The cultivation and development of talent is a complex undertaking. As the old Chinese saying goes, “It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to rear people.” Indeed, the cultivation of talent must be approached systematically, and on a long-term basis. Examples of systematic undertakings required for the development of talent include a lifelong learning system accessible to all members of society, a training system that integrates teaching and practice, and an innovation system that ties scientific research to industrial production. The Party has engaged in a series of initiatives in regard to the systematic cultivation and development of talent since its Seventeenth National Congress. Firstly, placing a joint emphasis on political integrity and professional competence, we have established channels for the training and promotion of Party and government cadres in grassroots positions, placed university graduates in rural positions, and organized for work exchanges between young and middle-aged cadres serving in central government departments and those serving in local government departments. Secondly, we have launched schemes for the cultivation of young talent, selecting outstanding personnel for participation in priority training schemes. Thirdly, we have made efforts to coordinate the development of talent on a regional basis, so as to ensure that initiatives to cultivate talent in various different fields and on different levels can complement each other. Fourthly, we have emphasized the implementation of talent development plans in coordination with plans for the development of science, technology, and education. Adhering to the laws governing the development of talent, we must plan comprehensively for the systematic cultivation of a variety of talent, and thereby provide an endless stream of talent to meet the needs of China’s economic and social development both now and in the future.

10. Reform and innovation are the fundamental driving forces for the development of talent. The key to the development of talent lies in systems and mechanisms, which draw their vitality from reform and innovation. We have continued to approach our talent initiatives in line with the principles of reform and innovation since the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC. For example, we have designated special zones for talent, established bases for talent to engage in innovation and entrepreneurial ventures, and probed actively into the development of effective mechanisms to support scientific research, the research and development of new and advanced technologies, and hi-tech business ventures. Notable achievements include the reform and redesign of the talent appraisal and allocation mechanisms employed by the China Academy of Sciences, the progress made by the National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing to implement a research management mechanism geared to international standards, and the establishment of the National Institute of Clean and Low-Carbon Energy in Beijing by the Shenhua Group. Despite this, however, backward ideas and institutional obstacles are still major constraints to the development of talent in all sectors of society at present. Therefore, we must broaden our horizons, widen our embrace, and open our minds to new ideas in a concerted effort to dispel the ideas and remove the institutional obstacles that are holding talent back and preventing them from playing their role. Our goal is to create a culture of innovation, and to foster an innovative spirit throughout society as a whole. We must commit ourselves to changing the way that we recognize, select, and utilize talent, elevate tried and tested reform experiences to the institutional level, and integrate important and widely effective policies into our legislative framework.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.3, 2012)

Author: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and Head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee

This article is taken from a speech delivered by the author at the National Forum on Talent on December 17, 2011.

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