Super-rich want to leave mainland
Nearly half of the mainland's super-rich are considering emigration, according to a survey of people with assets of more than 10 million yuan (HK$12.17 million) that has raised concern about the country's worsening social and business environment.
The survey, released jointly by the Hurun Report, which also publishes an annual China rich list, and the Bank of China, also found that 14 per cent of the 980 millionaires surveyed had either already moved overseas or were applying to do so.
The results were based on one-on-one interviews in 18 major mainland cities, from May to September. The average respondent was 42 and worth more than 60 million yuan, the survey found.
Forty-six per cent said they planned to emigrate, citing the better quality of education available for their children overseas, concerns about the security of their assets on the mainland amid political and economic uncertainty, and hopes for a better life in retirement as the main reasons.
A third had engaged in 'investment immigration', which allows a person to emigrate after they agree to first invest a certain amount of money in the host country.
The report did not list the most popular destinations for mainland millionaires, although Hong Kong has long been one of the most attractive places for mainlanders who can afford to live elsewhere.
In the past decade the city has attracted at least HK$50 billion in investment immigration from the mainland, with some of this money fuelling the property boom.
A recent Xinhua report also listed developed countries with good health care systems and less polluted environments, such as Canada and Australia, as top options for mainland millionaires.
After education, protecting assets and retirement, other reasons listed for wanting to emigrate included the lack of a sufficient legal framework on the mainland leading to too many grey areas, a worsening atmosphere for investment, and rising living costs and taxation. Some - corrupt government officials and businesspeople - wanted to leave because they obtained their money illegally. The yawning wealth gap on the mainland has also fed a resentment that makes some of the wealthy uncomfortable.
'This massive insecurity about the safety of their assets is like a huge black cloud hanging over their heads,' independent business commentator Ye Tan was quoted as saying in the survey report.
Other observers say this indicates a worrying trend for the Chinese leadership and the country, whose uneven jump to capitalism over the past three decades has created hundreds of super-rich but left a string of problems behind including corruption, pollution, food safety fears and a creaking health system.
'Getting a foreign passport is like taking out an insurance policy,' one millionaire from Zhejiang province was quoted as saying.
The increase in mainland millionaires last year
- Combined wealth of the 535,000 richest topped US$2.66 trillion