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Do China's Millionaires Want To Jump Ship?

Droves of jumpy Chinese millionaires are looking to emigrate from the PRC.  Should investors and geopoliticians be paying attention?

With concerns about social policy and slowing growth becoming more prominent, over half of Chinese millionaires are considering fleeing the country. From the Wall Street Journal:

More than half of China’s millionaires are either considering emigrating or have already taken steps to do so, according to a survey that builds on similar findings earlier this year, highlighting worries among the business elite about their quality of life and financial prospects, despite the country’s fast-paced growth.

The U.S. is the most popular emigration destination, according to the survey of 980 Chinese people with assets of more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) published on Saturday by Bank of China and wealth researcher Hurun Report.

Those itchy millionaires have a lot on their minds. The ones surveyed mentioned things such as poor education, a weak legal system, corruption, pollution and China’s one-child policy as reasons to consider a move.

The survey results may be slightly less dramatic than they look.  Many Chinese millionaires work side by side with Hong Kong and Taiwan based investors and businessmen.  The PRC-based entrepreneurs may well envy the freedom of their colleagues from some of the restrictions and limits they know at home.  Appreciating the convenience of another passport is not the same thing as a vote of no confidence in the future of your home.

Still, if a lot of rich people are thinking about jumping from the PRC ship, it also seems likely that a lot of money is looking to break out as well.  Revaluing the renminbi and expanding its international role might lead to capital flight: if you can’t emigrate yourself at least you can put your money somewhere you think might be safe.

And there is one other point worth considering: if this is how the people who are making money in China feel about things, what’s on the minds of the poor?

Amid all the questions and uncertainty about China’s future, one thing seems crystal clear: it won’t be dull.  Some very interesting things will be happening in this extraordinary place.

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  • Harun

    Another factor is that many wealthy people in China broke the law to get rich.

    Corrupt officials who are millionaires of course want to flee.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Are they interested in buying houses in the US. We have a lot for sale.

  • Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)

    Most of the “old money” left fifteen years ago, ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 reversion. Thousands of them ended up in Vancouver.

    The current millionaires are presumably new money from the southeast.

  • J R Yankovic

    All in all, music to my ears. (Whew! talk about schadenfreude. Pray for me, would you all?)

  • WigWag

    I hope that the United States is smart enough to eschew the anti-immigration hysteria and welcome these entrepreneurial Chinese millionaires to the United States with open arms.

  • Emerson

    At some point will they be allowed to leave? Nobody escapes Utopia.

  • deadman

    WigWag: It’s an anti-ILLEGAL-immigration mood. Funny how so few people outside Arizona and Alabama can make that simple distinction.

  • Luke Lea

    China is a black box. All we know is that apart from a special export sector on its southeastern coast, it is in large measure a “centrally planned economy” run by a totalitarian committee. And that it is riddled with corruption. Why we trust the statistics coming out of China is a mystery to me. Anything could happen.

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