ABSTRACT

In a posting on March 31, 2006, on Haiguinet, one of the largest online communities of Chinese returning migrants, a man sought advice on whether he should return to China. He had been in the United States for ten years and was then working in Silicon Valley. A company at the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park in Shanghai offered him an attractive managerial position with an annual salary of US$50,000-63,000 besides other benefits (quite high compared to the local salary level). Despite earning a stable yearly income around US$80,000-90,000 in Silicon Valley, the man found his career limited and his life in the United States monotonous.1 Numerous comments poured in with advice from both returnees and nonreturnees, mostly encouraging him to return to China. One important question raised by several respondents, however, was about citizenship. One respondent warned,

If you are not an American citizen, with that high salary, I guess it will be embarrassing after one year, as some Chinese can do the same work (with a lower salary). Why just pay you that high? . . . Thus, better get American citizenship before returning [so as to be paid differently].2