AIIA China Matters Fellowship

Policy research report

Winning hearts and minds: the PRC’s efforts to attract scientific talent

In her second policy research report, Ms Yun Jiang, AIIA China Matters Fellow, assesses efforts by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to encourage the return of PRC-born scientists from abroad. Xi Jinping has made attracting returnee talent a priority to enable the PRC to achieve greater technological strength and self-reliance.

Yun argues that these sometimes controversial programs have not met their objectives. Many top scientists are reluctant to return because of domestic policies in the PRC. At the same time, scientists of Chinese heritage in the United States face greater scrutiny and suspicion. Australia has an opportunity to attract some of this top scientific talent caught between the two countries.

Read the full report here.


The inaugural AIIA China Matters Fellow is Ms Yun Jiang.

Ms Jiang was the co-founder and former editor of the newsletter China Neican, and a managing editor of the China Story blog. She has published and been cited widely on China-related topics, with a focus on Australia’s policies on the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

She is a former researcher in geoeconomics at the Australian National University and a former policy adviser in the Australian Government, having worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Treasury and the Department of Defence. Her policy experience covers economics, national security, and foreign policy.

Read the media release here. Read FAQ here.

The AIIA China Matters Fellowship is an investment in the next generation of Australian China specialists. The Fellow, appointed for a two-year term, will publish well-researched and publicly accessible reports on developments in the PRC which are especially relevant to Australia. She will regularly publish opinion pieces in mainstream media and contribute in other ways to the public debate about the PRC and Australia-China relations.

The Fellowship is funded entirely by donations from Australian citizens and from wholly Australian-owned and -controlled companies or foundations. For a list of founding donors and supporters click here.

Recent Activities


Australia’s China illiteracy has dangerous consequences

East Asia Forum, 20 April 2023

Without an understanding of the social and cultural developments and the plurality of voices inside China, the danger is that Australians will only see the state and the Party and lose sight of the people.


Media hype of war with China forgets the impact on Australian society

Guardian Australia, 9 March 2023

Fixation on conflict tends to exclude debate around costs, tradeoffs and social cohesion.


Beijing and the birth rate: a question of human rights for women

the interpreter, 8 March 2023

Despite the government’s gender positive rhetoric, Chinese women are still viewed as resources of the party state.


Undue suspicion of Chinese Australian scientists slows progress

the interpreter, 13 January 2023

Clear guidance is needed on how national security is assessed in research and what are the boundaries of collaboration.


Security focus is setting back science in both China and the U.S.

Nikkei Asia, 27 December 2022

PRC-born researchers are finding it more difficult to live and work in the two countries.


Chinese nationalism under pressure

Inside Story, 6 December 2022

The PRC’s zero-Covid strategy has tempered nationalist sentiment among young people as well as significantly changing their view of the party.

Policy Research Report

Winning hearts and minds: the PRC’s efforts to attract scientific talent

A detailed analysis of the domestic and international factors affecting the PRC’s attempts to encourage the return of scientists from abroad.


Youth unemployment and a wealth exodus: Xi Jinping’s real problems are at home

The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 November 2022

“[L]ooking ahead, the party will have to deal with the most challenging period for the country in decades, as a pervasive sense of pessimism envelopes people inside the People’s Republic of China.”


Interest, Values and the Rules-Based Order

Australian Institute of International Affairs NSW, 23 August 2022

Report launch: panel discussion

China’s Antarctic ambitions and their implications for Australia

La Trobe Asia in collaboration with China Matters and the Australian Institute of International Affairs, 3 August 2022


Australia’s concerns about China’s Antarctic activities are overblown

Australian Financial Review, 5 August 2022

As tensions rise over Taiwan, Antarctica could provide opportunities for co-operation
and a way for Canberra to stabilise the relationship.

Policy Research Report

China’s Antarctic ambitions and their implications for Australia

An in-depth analysis of China’s activities, policies and ambitions in Antarctica and what they mean for Australia.

Previous Activities

Commentary: Labor government still has some big challenges with China (The Canberra Times, 28 June 2022)

Commentary: Lockdowns spark signs of defiance among China’s restless youth (The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 2022)

Podcast: Getting China-Australia relations out of a rut (Ear to Asia, 22 June 2022)

Commentary: As the world sanctions Russia, China takes note (East Asia Forum, 30 May 2022)

Commentary: Rejuvenating DFAT: increasing diversity and becoming less insular (the interpreter, 24 May 2022)

Book chapter: Xinjiang: Sanctions, Boycotts, and Counterboycotts (The China Story Yearbook, May 2022)

Event: Rethinking China with Yun Jiang (5 May 2022)

Commentary: Common enemies and instinctive friends (the interpreter, 15 March 2022)