Editor’s Note: In February, the Canadian government decided to change their stance on offering citizenship to major investors in the country. The presumption is that this was due to the overwhelming amount of Chinese nationals applying for this service. Why this turn around in Canada and other popular destinations for Chinese emigrants? And why are some other countries now opening their borders to the wealthy? In this translated article one Chinese reporter investigates the situation.
Canada’s sudden announcement of the end of its investment immigration scheme quickly set off a Chinese media storm and angered many rich Chinese. Clearly, the immigrant plans of Chinese people (especially those who are wealthy) have played a significant role in the reorganization of world demographics as various countries have continuously made adjustments to their immigration policies. These nations welcome Chinese people’s money but are not as welcome to the lifestyle of Chinese immigrants, especially when the latter is considered to be a “disturbance” to local life.
China’s third wave of immigrants: the wealthy elite
On February 11 the Canadian government announced that the federal immigrant investor scheme and federal entrepreneur program would both be ended. This means that the applications of tens of thousands of Chinese millionaires who have lined up for immigration are now only good for waste paper.
As of 2013, the Chinese Diaspora amounts to almost 10 million, marking a 128.6 percent increase in 23 years. China has grown from the seventh-largest exporter of immigrants in the 1990s to the fourth-largest exporter today. The total number of international immigrants from China has reached more than 30 million.
The end of year 2013 report released by Hurun shows a list of names of wealthy Chinese who had emigrated that year. In 2013, the number of Chinese who had already emigrated, were in the process of applying for immigration or were thinking about emigrating had increased by 6.7 percent over the previous year. Among these wealthy Chinese one out of every three multimillionaires had already emigrated.
The Hurun report referred to this as modern history’s third wave of Chinese large-scale emigration and noted that this wave is distinct due to the fact that it consists of mainly “the rich and well-educated elite.” So, why do they leave? The Hurun report surveyed 980 millionaires.
They found that the chief reasons for emigration include the need for better overseas education for their children, worry over the political and economic impact of fluctuating asset security in the Chinese market and hope for a better life after retirement. In the past two years, marked by smog problems throughout China, issues like environmental pollution have become a factor.
In addition, emigrants in business related fields often wish to seek out public financing for the development of various enterprises. Many of those leaving China are entrepreneurs who emigrate to island nations. Recently, the Commonwealth islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis have become known in China as they have become, “the preferred immigration destination for Chinese CEOs.” These high powered businessmen who have chosen to “settle down” on the island include South Beauty chairman Zhang Lan, Harmony Auto chairman Feng Zhangge as well as other CEOs of well-off private enterprises. An immigration agency noted that, “Many of these CEOs claim that they have been pressured to immigrate to the island.”
Exciting, new countries open doors, traditional countries for emigrants tighten polices
“Rich people are not welcome, only the richest people are welcome.” As more wealthy Chinese emigrate abroad, the shift in destination is clear: new destinations have opened their doors to immigrants and the countries that traditionally take immigrants have tightened immigration policies.
Canada is not the only example. New Zealand was in the past considered an attractive place to emigrate to; however the nation announced a tightening of immigration policies related to commercial ventures in 2013. In fact, multiple nations adjusted their immigration related polices in 2012 in order to “change the face of immigration” and create higher thresholds for immigrants.
In July 2012, Singapore amended its immigration laws to tighten immigration policies in order to further increase the threshold for immigrants, marked by the requirement of a substantial increase of the applicant’s conditions. Prior to this, the country’s immigration laws were modified in 2004. At that time, the revised terms were quite friendly towards Chinese immigrants.
Compared to the cold shoulder being given by Canada, the United Kingdom has gradually liberalized immigration policies in order to attract wealthy Chinese investors. The current investment immigration policies that have been implemented in the country are marked by significantly relaxed visa restrictions on persons holding large assets in order to encourage foreign investors to immigrate to the United Kingdom. The waiting time required in the application progress has also recently been shortened. The British newspaper, The Daily Mail, said that out of “millions of pounds” brought in to the UK last year by immigrants on investor visas about 3 percent could be accounted to Chinese investors. The new regulations also stipulate a shorter period required for immigrants to obtain permanent resident status.
Australia, at the end of 2012, also launched a similar “5 million major investor visa” for business investment in Australia. As long as applicants for potential immigration were worth 5 million Australian dollars (about 27 million RMB) they are able to apply for a fast-track investment visa. The latest data from the Australian Department of Immigration shows that since the launch of this major investor visa in 2012, there have been 545 applications and 90 percent of them where from China.
Whether it is the end of investment visa applications in Canada, increased thresholds in Singapore and New Zealand or the opening of doors in the United Kingdom and Australia to welcome to rich, it is easy to see that the fundamental base of global immigration policy is not, “Welcome rich people,” but “Welcome richer people.”
Why do foreigners “disdain” rich Chinese immigrants?
Local attitudes towards Chinese immigrants are that they rarely integrate; they do not abide by the rules, and are politically and culturally “hostile.”
Wealthy Chinese immigrants are spending billions of dollars around the world. This kind of spending is nothing new. From 2012 onwards, wealthy Chinese immigrants around the world continue to make the front pages of the national media. They appear to be stirring up and making a “splash” in the peaceful local scene, while suffering more and more “rejection” from local residents.
In Vancouver, one of the hottest destinations for Chinese immigrants, natives often associate “Chinese people,” with highly priced goods. When Chinese people attain wealth the first thing they do is purchase a house, however this drives prices up which affects the lives of local people, as many Western countries levy property taxes in accordance with property rates. This allows residents to believe that if foreigners come buy houses, they themselves will have to pay more in local property taxes.
In major US cities such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle, the real estate brokers are the most welcoming Americans for wealthy Chinese immigrants. According to data, in 2013, 33 percent of real estate transactions in the United States were with Chinese buyers. However, there are many Americans that complain that wealthy Chinese have driven housing prices up and stolen opportunities from American businessmen to make their fortune. Some Americans are even deeply suspicious of the methods through which rich Chinese have obtained their wealth and believe that it is a result of corruption and fraud. And far away in the South Pacific in the “home of the Hobbit”, New Zealand, the influx of Chinese immigrants has also made natives bitter about rising housing prices.
Even in the culturally-close proximity of the Asia region, the locals have a similar mental complex towards Chinese immigrants. Since the 1990s, Singapore has actively welcomed foreign immigrants, the majority being Chinese immigrants. Later, the locals complained that their living space had been significantly reduced. This, combined with the media’s negative spin on Chinese immigrants, increased the intense dissatisfaction with Chinese immigrants.
However, the image of wealthy Chinese immigrants is changing, especially their overall image. The breaking of misconceptions and prejudice, after all, relies on the immigrants themselves. Chinese immigrants have had to face challenges to figure out how they can better, and more quickly, integrate into local society. They immigrate despite the negative impact their own country has on their efforts, and fight for their legitimate rights and interests.
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Keywords: Chinese emigrants Chinese Immigrants
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Chinese people as a group are the least liked among the Asians. The more this country opens up and exposes it's population to other nations the less liked the become due to their re-engineered culture that prioritizes money above any other measure of value. At the core of this issue is the fact that the Chinese citizens abroad don't accept and assimilate to the local standards and culture, due to their programmed mindset of "Nationalistic pride" which cannot apply to a citizen who has immigrated to another country.
Mar 24, 2014 10:20 Report Abuse
Yeah wait until we are all dead so we can't laugh at how wrong you are. I have a bolder prediction, 1 -2 generations from now I will be king of the entire world. Just you wait, 1-2 generations from now. (Notice how I say generations and not years, using smaller numbers fools the reader into thinking it is a short amount of time)
Mar 22, 2014 08:03 Report Abuse
And here come the lame comparisons with USA, no matter that Manhattan was build over 100 years ago, and the fact that the NYC subway is reliable and convenient(it doesn't stop at 10 o'clock like some lines in Shanghai). And Chinese society isn't as much family oriented as it is about forcing your kids to do your bidding (buy and apartment, why aren't you married yet?) We will see how what things like never improving food security, increasing pollution, massive corruption, and curbing of human rights will do to the stability of Chinese society. We'll see...
Mar 24, 2014 11:22 Report Abuse
It's amazing watching Echinacities become a CCP propaganda machine right before my eyes. Day by day, article by article, they speak less and less about any corruption or wrongdoing in China or the Chinese government and more and more on the plight of the Chinese at the hands of big bad foreingers both within and without the country. Way to go Echinacities. You're becoming more of a joke than ever before.
Mar 18, 2014 14:57 Report Abuse
This was discussed before with admin. They simply translate articles with propaganda intact (read the disclaimer). There is no tailoring to the expat reader audience, but this also keeps us appraised of the extent of current xenophobic propaganda. Since eChinaCities merely translates without political commentary, it doesn't draw big brother's gaze either. IMO, it's a defensible standpoint.
Mar 18, 2014 16:04 Report Abuse
One thing I think is kinda lost in modern PC discourse is that for the most part places are good or bad based on the values of the people living there. Sweden is cold, it should be horrible...but it's not. It's full of Swedes who generally are decent people and it's a great society. The reverse being a place like Jamaica with an amazing climate and sky-high murder rate. The backlash is against people who want it both ways. They want to live in a nice external environment...that their own bad values make impossible at the macro level. You can't have a country full of devout reactionary islamists (or those from a certain other culture we all know and love) that also has strong rule of law, a secure business environment, safe & well-maintained infrastructure and advanced services run by smart people. They got rich exploiting their own system, and then want to leave that system to take advantage of one which protects them from the negative consequences (lots of poor, ignorant & desperate people and a poor living environment for everyone) of their actions. If enough of those immigrants are there...the new place will stop being nice. I like the ideal of reciprocal immigration policies. A Chinese person can only immigrate to Denmark on the same terms a Dane can immigrate to China.
Mar 18, 2014 11:15 Report Abuse
and no mention is made of the behaviour that these emigrants bring with them. the human indecency, the dangerous driving, the smallminded attitudes... they are rich, so by chinese standards they're cultured and sophisticated. but they made their fortunes by being a schoolyard bully, and have no idea how to treat people with dignity.
Mar 18, 2014 10:40 Report Abuse
Many, many countries are becoming anti-immigrant, except the USA, because of hard economic times. Switzerland just had a referendum tightening immigration laws and they were not aimed at the Chinese, but Muslims and Eastern Europeans. China just tightened it's own visa laws last year. The Chinese have this chip on their shoulder that they are being discriminated all over the world when they do the same to immigrants here. How does that work? You can spend a few years in our countries and get citizenship. I spend years here and can not even get a green card. How is that equal? If one country closes its doors for you, go somewhere else. You can go to Uruguay if you can prove an income of 500 dollars a week. Panama and Ecuador offer similar laws. You buy a house in Portugal and Spain and in a few years you can be a resident. Can I do that in China- no. I can be here 100 years and always be an outsider. Countries are not just singling out Chinese people, but everyone.
Mar 18, 2014 07:20 Report Abuse
I think the Chinese tend to 'keep score' in a really ugly way. They want to be getting the better of every situation. "Hey why can't we immigrate to your country?!" "Well for one thing we can't immigrate to yours" "But of course you can't immigrate to China, you are not Chinese!"
Mar 18, 2014 12:40 Report Abuse
"They found that the chief reasons for emigration include the need for better overseas education for their children, worry over the political and economic impact of fluctuating asset security in the Chinese market and hope for a better life after retirement" Or more like they are afraid their corrupt money will be found out; so they run to the West where there is no extradition. In addition locals don't want pissing, shitting, spitting and yelling in public Also Chinese do not know how to integrate with other cultures very well. They don't really appreciate diversity. Their only premise is to make money. I don't welcome to many either in America...All the jobs have gone over to China...now our space is being taken.
Mar 18, 2014 00:43 Report Abuse