The Grads Caught in the Battle for China’s Best and Brightest

Wu Huiyuan:

In an otherwise sleepy suburb of Wuhan, hundreds of twentysomethings are rushing in and out of a real estate office, stooped over to protect piles of documents from the heavy rain. In a bid to attract university graduates, these young people can now buy discounted houses in newly built community Linkonggang Youth City — and they’ve pounced on the opportunity.

Dai Huihui tells Sixth Tone that she just snagged a home at 6,800 yuan ($1,060) per square meter, or about four-fifths of market value. Dai graduated almost five years ago, meaning she was nearly ineligible for the program. “I caught the good fortune by its tail,” Dai says.

Like many Chinese cities that lack the allure of Beijing or Shanghai, Wuhan — a metropolis of 12 million — struggles to stand out. To realize its dream of building a knowledge-based economy, the Wuhan government last year launched a set of initiatives to entice a million young university graduates to live and work in the city over the next five years. According to recent figures, some 140,000 university graduates have become official Wuhan residents, suggesting incentive programs like Linkonggang Youth City are drawing crowds. But few seem set on staying.