THE recruitment of foreign advisers was first put forward by Guangdong party boss Li Changchun in June last year. Mr Li said Guangdong needed to acquire an 'external think-tank' which would offer expert advice on the province's economic development at annual gatherings. According to officials, the foreign advisers were selected for their interest and involvement in Guangdong's economic drive in the past two decades. Among the advisers, each of whom were offered a three-year contract, are experts in the areas of electronic information, machinery, vehicles, petro-chemicals, pharmaceuticals, education and finance. The group comprises senior executives from some of the world's top companies and institutions, including IBM, Microsoft, Asea Brown Boveri, BP Amoco, Ernst & Young International, Oxford University, the World Bank, ING Group, Nortel Networks, Merrill Lynch, Marubeni Corp and Royal Dutch/Shell Group. The two-day annual session kicked off yesterday with a closed-door meeting during which the advisers offered views on Guangdong's development to about 100 officials and scholars. The second day will feature discussions on electronic information, financial investment, science and technology education, and the upgrading of industrial production.