Inviting foreign experts to visit China appears to be this year's strategy for acquiring overseas know-how in an age of limits on hard currency spending.

Headlines in prominent Chinese newspapers in recent weeks have carried such proclamations as Foreign experts needed for upgrading and Zhao hails contributions of foreign experts.Zhao Ziyang, general secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee,

thanked foreign specialists two weeks ago for their contributions to China's development.

Li Minjun, director of the State Bureau of Foreign Experts, says China needs professionals from abroad to act as consultants in finance, law and international trade and to design new and high-technology products.

We welcome foreign talent in various fields to work in China, using their advanced technology and experience as we are now open to the outside world, he said.

More than 21,000 foreign experts from 50 countries worked in China last year, compared with 5,000 in 1984. Mr. Li forecasts 1988 will see at least the same number as last year.

Experts from overseas provide advice in such fields as energy, chemistry, telecommunications, nonferrous metals, petroleum, machinery, textiles, agriculture, building materials, transportation and education.

In the northeastern port city of Tianjin, the municipal government recently decided to loan US$1 million to a group of industrial and commercial entities to hire foreign specialists. The aim is to upgrade technology.

Vice Mayor Li Changxing says 100 foreign experts will be invited to work in Tianjin this year. At the same time, 90 Chinese technicians and senior managers will be sent abroad to study.

The value of China's technology import contracts dropped 34 percent last year to US$2.9 billion from US$4.4 billion of 1986, according to official estimates.

Of the total contracts for imported technology, 53 percent were for licensing, co-production, consulting and technological services. Fifteen percent covered transferring software used in production, design and management.

The number of signed agreements for China's imports of technology shrank 25 percent last year to 560, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade says.

Decreases in both the number and value of signed contracts are attributed to a shortage of foreign exchange.