FINE porcelain, Chinese-landscape scrolls and calligraphy adorn the office of Shi Yigong, dean of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Little about his ornamentation hints at Mr Shi’s 18 years in America, where, like thousands of Chinese students, he decamped for graduate study in the early 1990s. Mr Shi eventually became a professor at Princeton University but he began to feel like a “bystander” as his native country started to prosper. In 2008, at the age of 40, he returned to his homeland. He was one of the most famous Chinese scholars to do so; an emblem for the government’s attempts to match its academic achievements to its economic ones. More...