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The world has entered the era of the knowledge economy and, as the key strategic resource for national development, talent is playing an increasingly vital role. For example, today, the use of computers to create wealth and value signals a major change in mankind's mode of working. Wealth and value were first created from the soil, then in factories, later in banks and now via the Internet and computers. This marks significant human progress.
US journalist and author Thomas Friedman has said that in the era of the knowledge economy, the world is flat. The most fundamental characteristic of this era is the transnational flow and internationalization of talent. According to statistics from the United Nations, the number of people who currently live and work outside their native countries exceeds 200 million, and this number is increasing by three percent each year. This global flow of talent offers fresh hope for undertaking key science and technology projects, as well as for tackling existing global challenges. The Human Genome Project is an outstanding example of this. Hailed as one of the three major scientific undertakings of the 20th century, the project was jointly completed by scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and China.
International exchanges and collaboration between different countries have provided high-caliber individuals a new arena in which they can work to their full potential. For instance, John Thornton, the former president of Goldman Sachs of the United States, became a guest professor at Tsinghua University in 2003. The global leadership course that he directs has become one of the most popular and influential courses at the university.
The increased flow of international talent and intellectual opening-up and cooperation has become universally accepted in today's world. President Hu Jintao pointed out that China will pursue a more positive and opening-up strategy in order to better promote development, reform and innovation, and to allow more countries and people to benefit from China's development. The country will implement a more open policy on the internationalization of talent and will strengthen cooperation and exchanges in this area.
China is characterized by a large population, a big market and the abundant opportunities generated by its rapid growth and since the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978, China has always attached great importance to bringing in outstanding overseas talent. Between 2001 and 2010, China welcomed 300,000 foreign specialists annually. Many of these specialists are world-renowned and they came to China for work, exchanges or cooperation. They have made important contributions to China's development and won the respect and friendship of the Chinese people. The Chinese government has established the "Friendship Award" to recognize those foreign specialists who make outstanding contributions.