A significant percentage of China’s wealthy citizens, especially those looking to retire, have decided that they no longer want to live in China.  Instead, these members of the upper and middle classes in China are expressing serious interest in emigrating to the United States, Canada, and Australia.  These three countries are appealing to wealthy Chinese because of their open spaces, clean air, consistent medical care, and relatively stable political systems.

Due to China’s large population, land is very scarce in the urban and suburban areas.  This is a turn off to many wealthy Chinese who would prefer the open spaces and cleaner air in Canada, Australia, and the United States.  Many wealthy Chinese looking to retire are concerned about China’s current environmental and health conditions.  Instances of poisoned food and long waits for medical specialists have prompted China’s elite to look abroad for places to retire. 

Another key issue that has been a deciding factor for many Chinese is the political instability in China.  This was highlighted earlier this year when Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai was removed from his position on corruption charges.  This scandal brought into question the future stability of China’s political system and the trustworthiness of the administration. 

Of the Chinese citizens with a net worth of at least 10 million yuan ($1.6 million), 16% have already obtained foreign residency and another 44% are hoping to obtain it.  The implications of this could be astronomical for China, as the country is not only losing money from these wealthy individuals but skills as well.  China has tried to safeguard against capital flight by permitting people to only take a maximum of $50,000 out of the country each year, but this mandate has proved largely ineffective because of the many ways around the restrictions. 

For one reason or a combination of reasons, a large portion of China’s wealthy has emigrated or has plans to do so.  China must find a way to convince its elite to stay or risk losing the abundance of capital and skills that these individuals possess.  How do you think China should respond to this issue?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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