Chinese investor immigrants no long-term benefit, says Vancouverite

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 4:08am

Joy Mo is a mainland immigrant, living in the Vancouver satellite of Port Moody with her Canadian-born husband.

She counts among her friends wealthy Chinese who entered Canada under the investor immigrant programme.

When she heard on Tuesday that the scheme was being scrapped, she cheered.

"I understand some investor migrants have made certain contributions to society, but I just don't understand the long-lasting benefits that they bring to society," she said.

They mainly boosted property prices, making it unaffordable for others in Vancouver.

Mo, a court translator, is one of the countless Vancouverites who struggle to make ends meet in a stratospheric real estate market. Despite well-paying jobs, she and her husband have struggled to find a home they can afford to buy and are renting.

The former Shanghai resident's complaints about the impact of rich Chinese in Vancouver were reported in the South China Morning Post's Hongcouver blog last year and were picked up by other media.

Mo, 42, said she took pride in having played some small role in raising awareness about the issue of Chinese millionaire migration to Vancouver, but said she also experienced "mixed feelings".

"Being Chinese I have made a lot of wealthy friends over the years who have come over from China and I have seen the changes in the city," Mo, the mother of two young daughters, said. "It used to be people like me, independent immigrants, but then it was more and more the investors coming over. The problem is this: I am not against them personally."

Mo said that in most cases, the breadwinners in investor migrant families would simply return to China to make a living, rather than integrating economically in Canada.

"They tell me they can't make money here," she said. "For them, it's irresistible to keep working in China and keep making big money."

Mo, who migrated to Canada in 1999 on a spousal visa, said she and her husband were still struggling to find a suitable home on a C$650,000 budget. She said she hoped Tuesday's decision might bring prices down.

"In the long term I hope that this will have a positive impact by reducing prices," she said. "I certainly hope that the increases in the high end of the market will stop."

Mo said she doubted whether many investor migrants would return to China, amid a crackdown on so-called "passports of convenience". "They are happy they have left China. Their assets are safe now. But they try to keep a low profile," she said.

Mo said that when she asked her rich friends if they would speak to journalists to talk about their situation, they demurred. "Why? Because of tax issues. We didn't go any deeper than that. It gives me unsettled feelings." Ian Young