BEIJING: Cash-rich China has taken its hunt for highly skilled R&D talent abroad and the search has started to bear fruit.

More than 200 candidates from countries such as the United States, Japan and Germany have responded to the '1,000 Foreign Experts Project'.

The scheme was launched last November to attract - in the next 10 years - up to 1,000 highly skilled foreigners to work in China.

The research and development scheme has received 214 applications from prospective employers, said Mr Yi Fanping, the deputy director of a work team under the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs that oversees the project.

The prospective employers include universities, scientific research institutions and corporate units, Mr Yi said over the weekend.

Under the project, each successful candidate is given a one-time subsidy of up to one million yuan (S$200,000) from the central government to pursue any research topics related to their job.

Those who conduct scientific research can get a research allowance ranging from three million to five million yuan.

Once accepted, the foreign professionals are also entitled to preferential visa, taxation and wage, residence, medical care and insurance policies.

A second round of applications started last Friday and will close on March 12.

Many corporations in Beijing have expressed interest in China's latest talent hunt programme.

'My company already has an expert from Germany. We plan to introduce two to three experts from the US or Japan this year through the project because experts from those countries are leading in the industry,' said human resources manager Ye Jing, who is with Pulead Technology Industry, a new material and new energy developer.

The Beijing municipal government is setting up a website to facilitate the employers' search for foreign talent.

'Currently, an employer is on its own when seeking high-end foreign talent, which is not very efficient,' said Ms Chen Bei, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of human resources and social security.

'In the future, we will provide a platform that can ensure better interaction and matches between employers and foreign experts.'

She said the bureau will be meeting Beijing's high-tech companies.

More than 40,000 foreign experts - mainly senior technology and management personnel in fields such as education, scientific research, manufacturing and health - come to work in Beijing every year, she said.

Who qualifies as a foreign expert

APPLICANTS for the 1,000 Foreign Experts Project must be non-Chinese nationals, under the age of 65 and having the skills which China desperately needs to transform its growth model.

The foreign experts must work no fewer than three consecutive years in China and spend at least nine months a year in China if they are accepted under the scheme.

The target groups include professors at prestigious universities and scientific research institutions as well as senior technology and management professionals at world-renowned corporations or financial institutions.

Those with experience in starting and running businesses are also welcome.

Their employers should be universities, scientific institutions, Chinese-invested enterprises or joint ventures in which Chinese investors have a stake of more than 50 per cent.