Have money, will migrate
Updated: 2013-03-21 15:10
By Lv Chang and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)
More wealthy Chinese are looking for a better life in Western countries through investment immigration. [Photo / China Daily]
China's rich increasingly leaving the country on Investment immigration programs for various reasons
At 43, Xue Jun has what many Chinese dream of - a luxury downtown apartment, a three-story villa in the suburbs and a new black Porsche Cayenne.
But Xue, owner of an auction company and a consultancy in Jilin province, wants more - a foreign passport.
Unlike earlier waves of emigrants, most of whom were laborers or miners, Xue, who has assets of at least $2 million, is not looking for economic opportunities or a free pass to travel around.
He is part of a new wave of China's wealthy elite who are looking for a better quality of life through investment immigration.
However, just a year ago, Xue was content with his life in China and had never thought of living in another country. Things changed when his 17-year-old daughter was admitted to the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and he went to visit.
"Things are different in the UK. There is not so much pressure, kids are not necessarily required to focus on grades, and you don't have to worry about the food you eat," says Xue, who has been talking with an immigration agency after the trip and plans to invest at least one million pounds ($1.5 million) in a UK bank account, which will give him permanent residency after five years.
With statistics showing that more of China's rich are seeking to emigrate, the trend has increasingly came into the spotlight.
A survey by China Merchants Bank and consulting company Bain & Co in 2011 found that 60 percent of Chinese with personal assets of more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) are either considering investment migration or already taking steps.
Another report, by the Center for China and Globalization and the Beijing Institute of Technology, on Chinese international migration in 2012 shows similar results. The US was the top destination, followed Canada, Australia, New Zealand and western Europe.
According to the report, about 50 percent of investment immigration projects worth $500,000 or more in the US are being pitched by agencies in China to mostly private business owners, self-employed groups and senior corporate managers aged 35 to 55.
Hundreds of consulting firms have sprung up in recent years with their websites showing photos of blue skies, lavish lifestyles and landmarks such as Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House.
Armand, president and CEO of Arton Capital, a global financial advisory firm, says he has seen increasing numbers of Chinese taking steps to migrate to the UK, even though the country's investor program is the most expensive in Europe and requires applicants to stay there for at least six months of each year.
"China represents more than 60 percent of all applicants for investor applications," Arton says. "They are highly adaptable business people hungry for change and eager to pursue their dreams."
He says the demand for such programs is proof of a growing new order of global citizens, who can choose where to live, work and invest for future generations.
"Better education for their kids, insurance policy in case of political or financial turmoil, safer investment, access to the best medical systems around the world, ability to travel visa-free, are all true elements of what they want today," he says.