Life is elsewhere: Chinese well-to-do seek better life abroad
True life is elsewhere, as the Czech novelist Milan Kundera says. While everyone is looking for his final destination, for the wealthy Chinese, there is one common direction - Out of China.
According to an October survey by the Bank of China and Shanghai-based Hurun Report (a publishing and events group), who issues an annual ranking of China’s richest people, there are more than 500,000 Chinese who possess investable assets of over 10 million yuan (€1.2 million), and almost 60 percent are either considering emigrating, have begun the process or have already left the country.
There are a number of reasons that so many of China’s wealthy opt to leave: their children’s education, pollution-free environment, safe food, developed justice system and most of all – sense of security. US, Canada, Australia and Singapore are among the most desired destinations.
In the US this year almost 3000 Chinese citizens have applied for investor visas, also known as the EB-5, up from 270 in 2007. This counts for 78% of the total applicants for this type of visa.
This new immigration trend is different from that of refugees during the wartime in early 20th century or those who have studied abroad since China’s reforms and opening up to the outside world in the early 80s. Instead, these emigrants are self-motivated, mostly educated in China and may even have business based in China.
From the brain drain to the possible wealth drain, China should really start to think how to beef up its soft power in an attempt to halt this exodus of its financial elite. So while the Chinese government places disproportionate emphasis on economic growth, it seemingly comes at such a high price for the environment, food safety and security. In the long run, this simply will not be sustainable, especially if the country’s elite have all left.