Transport links attract Chinese talent

Updated: 2012-01-12 07:17

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

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BEIJING - For Xu Kun, a Chinese postgraduate student at the University of Seoul, the two-hour flight from Seoul to Beijing isn't the only advantage of commuting between the two countries.

"Sometimes a flight to Seoul is even cheaper than the ones to certain major cities in China," Xu told China Daily on Sunday. Xu flew from Seoul to Beijing on Saturday afternoon, a few days after finishing an oral defense of her dissertation for a master's degree.

Flights from Beijing to Seoul on Tuesday could be found online for as little as 720 yuan ($114) on Monday, according to, one of China's leading online travel agents.

Chinese passengers traveling to Seoul can choose from at least five major airlines from both countries, including Korean Air and Air China. The competition leads to low prices, benefiting travelers such as Xu.

Xu, 26, a comparative literature major, has commuted several times in recent months to complete her final semester in Seoul and attend job interviews in Beijing.

The Republic of Korea (ROK) is also attracting more Chinese students to "look east" because of its strong comparative advantage in education, experts said.

On average, studying in the ROK costs a Chinese student 80,000 to 100,000 yuan a year. The ROK is believed to be one of the most cost-effective countries for education in Asia, Li Yue, an analyst at Beijing-based overseas education consulting agency JJL, told China Daily.

"As long as you succeed in admission to one of the ROK's colleges, you will be granted a scholarship to cover 30 to 35 percent of your tuition fees," said Li, adding that local laws and regulations allow international students who are adults to seek part-time employment to ease financial burdens.

International students' career paths in the ROK are also diversified.

Graduates from state-of-the-art public universities, including the University of Seoul, have the opportunity to take exams to become a public servant for the municipal government, Li said.

Internships from leading enterprises such as Samsung and LG are also offered to international postgraduate students because of the well-developed cooperation between colleges and businesses.

With bilateral trade booming in recent years, both countries have seen signs of hope in talent exchanges, and officials said the number of international students from China coming to study in Seoul is growing.

"These days, there are around 80,000 Chinese students studying in the ROK," An Yuxiang, counselor of education with the Chinese embassy in the ROK, said in December 2011 in a speech to Chinese students in Seoul.

That's an increase of about 5,000 students compared to 2010. China provided funding for around 200 of those students this year, according to the counselor.

Statistics also show that a growing number of high achieving students from the ROK are "looking west" to China for higher education.

In 2010, it was estimated that around 64,000 students from the ROK were pursuing an academic education in China, according to Zhang Xinsen, Chinese ambassador to the ROK.

The ROK sends more students to China to pursue an academic education than any other country.

China Daily