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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs