本文認為造成上述現象的原因是「市場經濟」與「共產黨的領導地位」兩種邏輯妥協的結果。中共一方面進行經濟建設，不吝於重用前往歐美國家學習的專才；另一方面又提防傾心西方民主政治的人士進入體制任職。兩種邏輯碰撞妥協之下，出現「既重用又防範」的矛盾現象。中共願意在經貿科技領域重用海歸派，但組織、宣傳等部門就很少晉用海歸派。同時，中共偏好滯留國外時間短、公派出國的海歸派，長期滯留國外、自費出國的海歸派則較難受到青睞。因此，外界不應高估海歸派在中國民主化過程中的角色。 The article explores the characteristics of Chinese ranking officials with oversea study backgrounds and examines the role of these oversea-returned officials in Chinese political development. After analyzing 165 returned students currently holding posts at the vice minister level or above, this article finds (1) their share in the total ranking officials at the vice minister level or above is less than 10%; (2) they usually are public funded to study abroad for a degree or for a short-term training and research program; (3) most of them major in natural science and engineering, or economics and management; (4) the majority of these elites work in technical and professional ministries in the government, or in major universities and research institutes; (5) their oversea study duration is usually less than two years; and (6) a quarter of these ranking cadres are not members of the Chinese Communist Party.
These findings reveal, as this article argues, that Chinese leaders are willing to put West-trained returned students in important posts in order to promote economic growth but, take measures to prevent these returned students from becoming a source of promoting political reform. West-trained returned students are absent in the systems of organization, propaganda, ideology, military and national security. China is also less willing to promote those who are self-funded and spend a long duration in study abroad. Therefore, the role of West-trained returned students in China's democratic transition cannot be overestimated.