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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid