China: The Rich Are Fleeing

The 2011 China Private Wealth Study, released last week by China Merchants Bank and consulting firm Bain & Company has been generating a lot of buzz on Sina Weibo and elsewhere.

Among the more controversial findings of the study is that 27% of the more than 20,000 Chinese multimillionaires with more than US dollar (USD) 15,000,000 in individual assets have already emigrated abroad, and around 60% of those with more than USD 1,500,000 in assets, 960,000 people, have already or are planning to do so. Reportedly, this ‘rich exodus’ began in 2009.

Get your immivestment here!

Micro-opinion on the study results from Sina Weibo:

Someone once said to let some people get rich first, and then let them help others. Well, I'm waiting. Except that those who got rich first have chosen investment immigration and taken off. So who's going help me?

Chinese society needs the “superrich” to lead everyone in building up the country and creating a better future. But until now what China needs even more is people thinking of and acting in ways which raise moral standards of the Chinese people. But these people who choose to emigrate, they're not exactly about to do much of this sort of thing for the Chinese people. But even so, what good is there in beating ourselves up over it or imploring them to stay or admonishing them for not?

A friend of mine has a flat, which he lives in, and is always going on about how he hopes it will keep appreciating. I asked him, you live in the only property you own, what difference does it make to you if the price of housing keeps going up? If the price of housing keeps going up, the price of goods will too, so shouldn't you be hoping the price of housing goes down? My friend said, I just want the price of the flat to go up enough for me to cover emigration costs, and then I'll sell it immediately and start the investment immigration process. By then, I won't care how much the price of goods has risen.

A journalist asked me what my thoughts are on investment immigration. I said, “emigration is a way some Chinese people deal with their sense of insecurity, but honestly, China has too large a population, immigration won't solve everyone's problems. I just hope that Chinese elites with a sense of responsibility won't only seek to resolve their own problems, but will work to resolve those for the majority of Chinese people as well. Looking ahead, fixing most people's problem will also be fixing their own problem.

It's worth paying attention to the fleeing rich. According to figures published by the US Department of State, in the 10.2008-09.2009 federal fiscal year, the number of EB-5 (investment) immigration visas granted went up by 1,443 from the 2008 fiscal year to a total of 4,218, 70% of which were given to Chinese. Canadian immigration statistics show that in 2009, 2,055 people from around the world were admitted through investment immigration, around 1,000 of whom were from Mainland China.
《以开放心态恭送投资移民者离开》 这类人为中国的经济建设做出了重大贡献,然与此同时,他们也获得了巨大的经济利益,成为中国改革开放的最大受益群体。而今该类人选择了投资移民,就一定意义而言,确实会让中国社会的总体财富下降,但笔者认为我们当恭送投资移民者离开中国。

These kinds of people have made an enormous contribution to the building up of China's economy, however at the same time, they've also become major beneficiaries of that, become the group which benefited most from China's reform and opening up policies. Now, these people have chosen investment immigration. Speaking strictly to the significance of this, China's overall wealth will take a definite decline, so personally I don't feel we should be seeing these investment emigres off as they leave China.

The study has also given way to many discussions here and there; this one started by Sina Weibo user ‘Christopher Gold’, is one of the more active, and starts off:


In theory, China's economic rise needs this wealth and talent to stay within China. Wrong. Now you have people from all around the world flooding into China seeking opportunity and searching for treasure, meanwhile 60% of China's [RMB] multimillionaires have already or are in the process of emigrating. 2009 saw a 45% increase from 2008 in the number of people doing investment immigration to the United States. Are they pigs so fat that they're afraid of getting slaughtered, corrupt, thus transferring their wealth, and finding environmental pollution so bad that they can't bear to stay, or do they sense that China's decline is imminent, meaning they're hedging their bets on the coming of “The Great Escape from China”? Unbelievable!

Oh, but China is in the money now, and 60% of a million millionaires means nothing. There's more where those came from and no need to make any comparisons with the mass emigration tide seen in post-1989 Hong Kong, because, to give the last word to Twitter-based China affairs expert Bill Bishop:

rich r fleeing meme total overblown


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