Last year, record numbers of China’s super-rich fled Xi Jinping’s purge by paying for pricey visas to the UK. The number of Chinese who shelled out for the visas last year is is both twice as high as it was the previous year, and also twice as high as the number of Russian oligarchs who availed themselves of the same opportunity over the same period. The FT reports:
A total of 357 British “Tier 1” investor visas were issued to Chinese nationals during the 12 months to the end of September, accounting for 43 per cent of all investor visas issued during that period, according to UK government data. These visas could be obtained in return for a £1m investment in gilts or British companies’ shares or bonds, a limit that has since been raised to £2m.That, compared with 178 such visas issued to Chinese investors over the same period a year earlier, makes them the biggest group of beneficiaries of the scheme by far.
Five years ago, Chinese nationals made up just 10 per cent of the total number of people who received British investor visas. […]Statistics from other popular destination countries such as the US, Australia and Portugal have shown an explosion in the number of rich Chinese trying to gain residency or citizenship abroad in the past few years.
It’s only logical that Xi’s purge would make China’s super-rich want to get out of the line of fire: Chinese elites have gotten the message that they are in the crosshairs. Anyone whose financial dealings are not entirely above board (and given the way the Chinese system has worked for decades, that’s all of them) knows that his family, freedom, and money are only safe in China if he can keep the capricious leadership happy. At a certain point, that £2 million investment starts to look very worthwhile.