Staff in six categories cannot seek work abroad, especially those on key projects Six categories of people will not be allowed to work abroad, according to a rule issued by the Ministry of Personnel in conjunction with other national departments. According to the ministry, the rule was created to regulate newly approved joint-venture human resources (HR) companies. 'We had to establish game rules for this sector as more foreign human resource giants enter the market,' said a ministry spokesperson. The rule says technical specialists or management personnel who work on key national or provincial projects and research programmes cannot be employed overseas without permission. Also barred from working abroad are civil servants, people assigned by the state to support China's western development, those who have ever worked with state secrets, criminal suspects, and anyone who cannot leave the mainland due to other laws and regulations. 'This rule was created to regulate foreign HR companies' recruitment practices, in an effort to protect China from talent loss, economic loss and to safeguard national security,' said Liu Erduo, Vice-Dean of the Labour and Human Resource School under the China People's University in Beijing. 'More talent started to cross the mainland border after China became a member of the World Trade Organisation,' he said. Grace Cheng, general manager of Korn Ferry Consulting Beijing, a jointventure between Korn Ferry and a Citic subsidiary company, said the rule would ultimately benefit the market, calling it 'timely'. When it received its operating licence last October, Korn Ferry Consulting became the first joint-venture human resources company on the mainland. Communications manager Cindy Cao said: 'We don't want to challenge state rules or hunt for people involved with key projects or secrets.' Professor Liu explained why the rule was in the country's best interests. 'To allow people who have worked on key national projects or research programmes to leave the mainland and find employment overseas is a high-risk move for three reasons. 'First, they carry with them research findings and secret information concerning projects that the state has poured funding into. For these findings to be leaked would constitute a huge economic loss. 'Second, if these people leave to work abroad, it will be difficult to solve the legal disputes that will likely arise because of their departure. 'Third, national secrets could be leaked and this brings up the issue of national safety and security.' Professor Liu said it was common for public servants to be barred from overseas travel without permission.