Wealthy Chinese look to emigrate for better opportunities

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More than half of China's millionaires are either considering emigrating or have already taken steps to do so, according to a poll by Shanghai's Hurun Institute, which publishes an annual list of the richest people in the country. The poll cited worries among the business elite about their quality of life and financial prospects; they also hope for better educational opportunities for their children abroad.

The 40-page report, released by the Bank of China and the Hurun Research Institute, revealed that 14 percent of Chinese millionaires in 18 Chinese cities across the country have already either applied or are in the process of applying for emigration to other countries such as the US, UK, and Canada.

"As of April this year, China has 960,000 millionaires with personal assets of 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million)," says Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of the Hurun Research Institute, which compiles the list. "It has 60,000 super-rich with 100 million yuan assets, and their numbers keep growing."

A third of the participants already owned property abroad, and almost 30 percent of those who had not yet invested in a foreign country planned to do so in the next few years.

"In Chinese, emigration refers also to getting a permanent residency, or a 'green card'," Hoogewerf explains. "We estimate this to make up 80% of the total who want to 'emigrate'."

A popular choice for Chinese millionaires is to apply for a US Alien Investor's visa wherein applicants provide evidence that they have invested or are in the process of investing the required $500,000 to $1 million in the US and create or preserve at least 10 jobs for US workers. Following this visa-holders can then seek permanent resident status.

Hoogewerf cites other reasons Chinese are emigrating saying some millionaires opt to leave to escape China's insufficient medical care, pollution and food safety. "There is also an element of insurance against economic, social and potential political unrest," he said.

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