Qianshan, a county of 500,000 residents in East China's Anhui province, was in the news recently as three academicians, the top academic post in the country, come from this county. There's more. In 2020, seven high school graduates from this county got enrolled in Peking University and Tsinghua University, China's top two universities.
In Nishui village, 29 out of its 3,500 residents have completed their doctorate in the past four decades; 54 have a master's degree and 300 a bachelor's degree.
Some media outlets point out that a majority of students from villages in the county go to universities in big cities and, on graduating, work and contribute to the economic development there, even paying taxes there. Nobody ever looks back at Qianshan.
However, that is true of any small county or village. Its talented people move to bigger cities and settle down there, further widening the gap between metropolises and villages.
When young people with better abilities move to bigger cities, it becomes difficult for the villages they leave behind to flourish.
One way to alleviate poverty in the rural regions is to get more talents to go back, for which the State has been introducing multiple policies. For example, university graduates are encouraged to teach in rural schools for a year or two, in return for subsidies and preferential policies for enrolling postgraduate courses.
However, preferential education policies help only in educating rural youth; it does not guarantee they will go back.
What is required is to shift more jobs to the rural areas. Only when large enterprises have a presence in the smaller cities or villages will more people want to go and work there. From the State's point of view, introduction of preferential tax rates and better infrastructure could encourage enterprises to make that shift.