News / Asia

China's Wealthy Set Their Sights Abroad

A wealthy Chinese immigrant family inspect a villa in the high-class neighborhood of West Vancouver, Canada, June 11, 2011.
A wealthy Chinese immigrant family inspect a villa in the high-class neighborhood of West Vancouver, Canada, June 11, 2011.

As China's wealth increases, so does the number of well-off Chinese seeking to emigrate to other countries.

Their reasons vary: some say they want to switch citizenship to improve educational opportunities for their children, others say they are trying to  “hedge their bets” against an uncertain economic future.

The U.S. state of Florida, with its sunshine and beaches, is on the other side of the planet from the southern Chinese commercial center, Guangzhou.

The distance does not deter one ambitious Guangzhou resident who is in the process of obtaining an investor immigrant visa to the United States.

She says she is willing to leave because she thinks her two children will have better opportunities for education. She says holding a U.S. passport also will make it easier to obtain visas to go to other countries.

Many wealthy Chinese do not publicly talk about their desire to immigrate since such a move can be seen as disloyal to their country. This would-be emigre agreed to speak to VOA only on the condition that she not be identified.

To qualify for her visa, she and her husband are planning to invest in a wind farm in South Dakota. She says they made their decision after a trip to the United States in 2009.

She says her friends in the United States introduced her to lawyers, and then after she returned to China, she said she was bombarded with “all sorts of advertisements” about immigrating to other countries.

She says they were considering moving to two U.S. cities, Chicago or Tampa, because that is where their friends live. They decided Chicago is too cold, she says, and because they come from a warm climate, they chose Tampa.

For more than 20 years, the United States has had an immigration program under which a foreigner can qualify for U.S. citizenship if he or she invests one million dollars in a venture that creates at least ten jobs for Americans.

Charles Bennett, the head of consular affairs at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, says in China, most of the interest in the program so far has come from American companies that are trying to find Chinese investors. But, he notes that it is only recently that many Chinese could even meet the steep financial requirements for the program.

“The interest has grown over the life of the program of course because 20 years ago, there weren't the same number of people that there are now who would be able to qualify for this type of visa. So, there has been more interest recently," Bennett says.

China’s economy has recorded some of the world's highest annual growth rates for more than a decade, and the trend is expected to continue this year.

The apparent paradox of those growing riches is that there is also an increasing number of the newly-wealthy who are seeking to emigrate.

Charles Qi is the president of Beijing East J&P Star Consulting, a company that helps Chinese people obtain visas to other countries. When he started 16 years ago, he mostly helped people apply for skilled worker status. Now he helps customers who have the means apply for investor citizenship abroad, especially to Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States.

Qi says before 2000, he only had about 20 to 30 business applications each year. Now, more than ten years later, he says the applications have increased ten-fold, to a few hundred business investor applications each year.

Qi says he thinks that, although his clients may leave behind their Chinese citizenship when they emigrate, many of them are still Chinese in their actions and in their hearts.

Most of his clients still have their equipment and business in China, and he thinks this type of immigration will help make China more open in the future and will have a positive impact on China's economic development.

The American economy has not been growing as strongly as in China, in recent years, but William Zarit, a commercial officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, says he believes many Chinese still see the United States as a safer investment.

“We don't know what's going to happen here in the next three to five years economically, how hard that landing is going to be," says Zarit. "So, I think investors here in China are thinking of that also, you know, let's diversify and get a steady [return]. We might not be getting the return on investment that I possibly would get here [in China] in whatever the industry, maybe, but I think I will go to America anyhow, to hedge my bet.”

Although Chinese who are thinking of emigrating abroad do not generally talk publicly about their decision making, there is a heated debate on the topic in Internet chat rooms.

In those online discussions, commentators suggest that the decision to leave China is not solely an economic one.

One real estate mogul recently posted an online comment bemoaning China's overall lack of a sense of basic security for things like property, food, air, education and basic rights. He says this is not only the main reason motivating people to leave the country, it is also the main thing threatening China's overall stability.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid