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Canada, China collaborate to encourage “brain flow” between the two countries


The "brain flow" between Canada and China involves the movement of Chinese students, researchers, and faculty to Canadian educational institutions, and their return to the Chinese workforce. This rotation is producing a new push-pull dynamic as both countries actively seek to attract and retain highly skilled foreign and domestic workers.

Influencing policy in Canada and China

With IDRC support, The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada developed the Canada-China Human Capital Dialogue (CCHCD) project to influence human capital policy in both countries. In a two-year effort, think tanks in Canada and China focused on three priorities:

  • Innovative and practical ideas for human capital exchange
  • The impact of China’s development model on worker migration
  • The effects of human capital patterns on Canada-China economic relations

Results of Canada-China collaboration

During the project life span, five conferences were held in China and Canada, drawing over 330 participants. Researchers presented preliminary findings and identified areas for bilateral cooperation. In addition to the Canada-China Task Force on Human Capital Working Group, research and policy reports evolved from the conferences. To extend knowledge sharing and capacity building, workshops and policy roundtables focusing on brain circulation, foreign talent strategies, and associated challenges were organized by the CCHCD.

​The project researchers concluded that Canada and China should not only continue their collaboration, but enhance the two-way flow of human capital between the two countries. They also recommended a talent-sharing strategy to increase economic welfare and investment between Canada and China. Additionally, Chinese researchers are now including Canada in their policy research projects, and Canadians are invited to attend Chinese high-level policy conferences.

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