The idea of being a citizen of developed countries through investment is tremendously appealing to China’s affluent businessmen. Some Western countries are encouraging this by not only easing citizenship requirements but offering enticements as they look to attract foreign money to help restore their economies.
According to Beijing Entry & Exit Service Association, more than 1000 people applied for EB-5 visa – US investment immigration – in 2009, doubled from 500 in 2008. Canada and Australia are at the top of the list of ideal immigration destinations as they both have highly-developed Chinese communities, especially in big cities like Toronto and Sydney.
Singapore is also on the list, partly because it eliminated estate duty in 2008. Since then, mansions and villas at Sentosa and downtown Orchard Road have welcomed their new owners from mainland China.
Europe, however, is not that attractive for China’s rich immigrants because of its strict policies and complicated procedures. Smaller nations, such as St. Kitts and Nevis in the Carribean, are also promoting immigration to wealthy Chinese.
Why do these rich guys want to have another country’s ID card?
Better education for their children and looking for security are the major motivations. Though incredibly loaded, Chinese entrepreneurs want to hedge their wealth and put some assets outside of China. This is the case for Mr. Li who made his money in constructions. Security is a high priority and he sees China’s investment environment too unstable for his taste. Mr. Li told the Economic Observer, “China’s investment policies are terrible; one cannot invest in one’s own choices, and what one is obliged to invest in is not profitable. Also, tax rates are too high.”
Another concern is the wealth gap that continues to grow in the nation. Some fear that one day the government may want to enforce “even distribution of wealth” again. China’s Gini Coefficient – an indicator of income inequality- surged to 0.47 in 2009, exceeding the warning threshold of 0.4, according to the World Bank.