Coverage about GreenTea:
In the future, I
want to be able to freely choose to whom I give or lend my personal computer
Chris Xie and Zhao Guobin also share the same point of view. In their
apartment in Mountain View (California), these two young Chinese men, who
recently moved to Silicon Valley, just recently created their own start-up
called "GreenTea", and put together a unique software which is in the
process of being released onto the market under the program name:
Up to now, programs that were developed by start-ups, only worked on larger
servers, explains Chris Xie, the inventor. On the other hand, GreenTea
runs on any type of standard personal computer. If they keep their
promises, GreenTea will enable all internet users to share other users hard
drives and other user's computer's capability: therefore, never being too short
All we need are a few hundred thousand users in order for you to have a
"super computer" in your own living room.
Play on IBM. Or listen to the sky, while looking for little green men.
January 16, 2002
Scott Su surveys the landscape of Silicon Valley - spotless two- and
three-storey buildings, new cars racing along the highway and a light
railway service that leaves no noise or smoke.
"Chinese want to take risks and make a fortune. They do not want
to work their way up in a company. They want to go into business on
their own and hit the jackpot with a stock listing. That is why they are
going home," he said.
Mr Su, a native of Xian and graduate of its Communications University,
has worked for three years at Cisco Systems, one of the biggest
companies in San Jose, heart of Silicon Valley, where 20,000 to 30,000
mainland Chinese work. Cisco employs 37,500 people, including 11,000
engineers, one-third of them ethnic Chinese.
Mr Su said: "The return migration began in the middle of last
year, when people began to lose their jobs. Many missions have come from
China, seeking recruits and offering opportunities. The response has
been very good. Many are looking for an opportunity."
Since China allowed its people to study abroad at the end of the
1970s, more than 300,000 have gone to study in foreign countries, mainly
the United States, and only a fraction have returned.
The most popular destination is California and especially San
Francisco, popularly known as Jiu Jin Shan (Old Golden Mountain).
Chinese were among the first settlers here, arriving in the 1840s, and
now account for one third of the urban population.
Silicon Valley has grown up over the past 20 years to the south of
San Francisco, in cities like San Jose and Santa Clara, and has
attracted thousands of mainland Chinese, who are strongest in science,
engineering and computer subjects.
But the collapse of the Nasdaq and the information technology (IT)
bubble, causing thousands of people to be laid off last year, has
shifted the balance of comparative advantages, causing many Chinese to
think of a career at home.
Beijing has not published the number of those who have returned.
Chinese in Silicon Valley estimate the figure at several hundred and say
that it will increase as long as the US economy does not pick up.
It is a repeat of the story of Taiwan, which sent thousands of
students to the US from the 1950s, seeking economic opportunity and
political security. Less than 20 per cent returned home.
This proportion started to rise from the late 1980s, as wages and
opportunities at home improved, with the Government setting up
high-technology zones, companies offering incentives to returnees and
the threat of a Communist invasion receding.
Similarly, Beijing is eager to exploit the downturn in the global IT
market and bring back its overseas talent. At the end of December,
Vice-Premier Li Lanqing launched a week of activities aimed at
persuading Chinese students to come back. More than 360 visited science
parks in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Xian and more than a dozen other
cities to discuss projects.
Mr Li told a national meeting on December 28: "These students
are a precious resource of the nation. We have joined the World Trade
Organisation and the race of global competition, in which the need for
talent is urgent. We must work hard to create the conditions to attract
these talented people to come back."
The Government offers tax breaks, cheap land and other incentives to
such returnees. One who took the plunge was Chris Xie, 33, who came to
take a master's degree at the University of California at Riverside in
1989 and had not expected to return home. In 1998, he set up GreenTea
Technologies to run from his Bay Area apartment but could find no seed
A Shanghai biotechnology firm offered to invest US,000 and gave him a
share of its Shanghai office space. Mr Xie has offices in two other
Chinese cities and is pursuing deals with top computer firms. GreenTea
sells a technology, which Mr Xie developed, that is a platform for
pooling the power of many personal computers together to form one very
Mr Xie said: "Many have gone back, some because they lost their
job and others because there is opportunity in China. One friend with no
green card moved back with his family because he thinks he has more
opportunities there and a high standard of living."
But Mr Xie's mother and girlfriend live in California and he has got
used to the American, not the Chinese, way of doing business.
"We are maintaining operations in both places. We want to see
how the business develops."
Jiang Wei, who works at Intuit and has lived for 12 years in the US,
said the climate in Silicon Valley had changed drastically.
"I know many people who are actively looking at opportunities to
go home. The US economy is not good, there have been many lay-offs and
the Chinese market is very active. It is different from one to two years
"Everyone knows the political uncertainty of China but is
optimistic over the next five years. An annual salary of 500,000 yuan
[about HK,500] in Pudong is very attractive to a single person. For
myself, I am not soliciting opportunities but have an interest in going
Zhang Hanchang, who works in a small hi-tech start-up in a Silicon
Valley firm and has lived in the US for 15 years, said the move back to
China began at the start of last year.
He said: "China has a lot of IT talent but its base is much
lower than that in the US, so it needs people. The ones who have gone
back are those with five years or less in the US and who still have
connections in China. Such guanxi [connections] are vital. I have been
here too long and do not have them. I have become an American and could
There was also the problem of converting yuan earnings into US
An American management consultant said the numbers looked good for
"Other markets look bad. Japan is going to the toilet and things
will get worse. In China, you can still lose money but the
infrastructure is better and things are more transparent. Those going
back belong to a finite supply of talent. Experience in Silicon Valley
makes it easier to raise money. Venture capitalists want people who 'get
But Chinese say those considering a move cannot ignore personal
factors. If a wife and children are settled in the US, they usually
prefer to stay and the adjustment for a child from an American to a
Chinese school is too great.
The ideal is to go back with a US passport or green card in your
pocket - but what to do if a good opportunity presents itself when you
Chinese said that patriotism was not a factor in the return, unlike
the 1950s when thousands of Chinese returned home to build what they
believed would be a new and better country. This move is driven by money