China suffers the worst brain drain in the world, according to a new study that found seven out of every 10 students who enrol in an overseas university never return to live in their homeland.
Despite the booming economy and government incentives to return, an increasing number of the country's brightest minds are relocating to wealthier nations, where they can usually benefit from higher living standards, brighter career opportunities and the freedom to have as many children as they wish.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed 1.06 million Chinese had gone to study overseas since 1978, but only 275,000 had returned. The rest had taken postgraduate courses, found work, got married or changed citizenship.
Britain has gone further than most to attract this pool of intellectual talent. Chinese students have been the biggest group of foreign nationals at UK schools and universities for several years. Last year their numbers increased 20% to 60,000.
The report claims the lack of first-class scientists and research pioneers represents the biggest obstacle to China's ability to innovate.
A survey this year found that in Shanghai 30% of high school pupils and 50% of middle-school students wanted to change their nationality.