Chinese overseas-educated talent will play an important role in reform , vice chairman of the Western Returned Scholars Association Wang Huiyao said Monday. \"Chinese overseas-educated scholars will continue to play a vital role in promoting the country\'s transformation into an innovation-driven economy in the next three decades,\" said Wang in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. China has expanded the number of students sent to study abroad since the adoption of the reform and opening up policy in 1978. By the end of 2012, 2.64 million had been sent abroad, among whom 1.09 million returned. Overseas-educated scholars were encouraged by Chinese President Xi Jinping to serve as a talent pool, think tank and a vital force for people-to-people diplomacy, at the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Western Returned Scholars Association held in Beijing on Monday. \"The new expectation for the overseas-educated as China\'s talent pool, think tank and the vital force for public diplomacy has indicated the direction for development of the association,\" Wang said. Numerous development opportunities in China are the most attractive factors for the overseas-educated, said Wang. The association, founded in 1913, is the nation\'s largest organization for overseas-educated talents with the longest history.