High net worth individuals: China’s new export

By George Chen
April 20, 2011

LV

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

From Paris to New York, London to Hong Kong, when you see more Chinese people shopping in high-end retail outlets, you know they are indeed growing rich. What if I tell you that many rich Chinese are actually planning to become non-Chinese in the foreseeable future?

Merchants Bank, China’s No.1 credit card issuer, which is also widely considered the best retail bank in the world’s No.2 economy, has teamed up with consultancy firm Bain & Company for a study of China’s high net worth individuals. In addition to some fancy numbers, I’m amused and surprised by one of the latest findings – about 60 percent of China’s high net worth individuals have emigrated or are seriously thinking of doing so.

Who are they? Most of them are entrepreneurs with at least 100 million yuan (about US15.3 million) to invest, according to the joint survey.

The survey defines Chinese high net worth individuals as those with at least 10 million yuan available to invest, and a fancier class of super high net worth individuals with at least 100 million yuan to invest. In total, there are about 500,000 high net worth individuals with an average of 30 million yuan of capital, the survey said.

As of the end of 2010, the about 500,000 high net worth individuals, including more than 20,000 super high net worth individuals held about 15 trillion yuan available to invest. That figure is expected to grow to 18 trillion yuan this year, according to the survey, which had about 2,600 respondents.

Rich Chinese often prefer to emigrate to countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. The main reasons behind such plans, mostly via well-known investment immigration schemes, are for their children’s education and a preferable retirement environment. Only 6 percent of respondents considering emigrating cited taxes as a reason for leaving China. Apparently, most high net worth Chinese are not particularly critical of the country’s taxation system.

An influx of wealthy Chinese immigrants has become a hot issue in some countries, especially among conservative lawmakers in the West. For example, Canada doubled its minimum investment migration requirement to C$1.6 million in net assets in 2010.

If the survey is reliable, it may come as a warning to the Chinese government. When rich people leave the country, will they also transfer their wealth to their new homes? Otherwise, what’s the point in getting a foreign passport?

China doesn’t recognize dual-nationality. Once you emigrate, your Chinese passport is invalidated. I wonder if Beijing will adjust nationality rules soon to encourage the rich to stay at home.

George Chen is a Reuters editor and columnist based in Hong Kong.

Photo: People walk past a giant suitcase for Louis Vuitton on display outside a Louis Vuitton store in Shanghai, August 2, 2010 REUTERS/Aly Song

2 comments

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Rich foreigners come to the USA because we treat them preferentially and let them run the country. No one else is that stupid.

If enough rich Chinese move to the USA, we will next be invading China’s traditional enemies. Why not? We do it for the other rich foreign people here. Excuse me: “new Americans”.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

After reading this article I’m very angry because I am a Chinese

All those rich through what method get so much wealth ?

They have the huge wealth through exploitation and crush the ordinary working people blood and sweat,a group of son of bitch!!!

They earn enough money but run away, really shameless !

Despicable China government raises such a group of things !

People will judge you sooner or later!

Posted by wohuiku | Report as abusive

[...] with more than USD 15,000,000 in individual assets have already emigrated abroad, and around 60% of those with more than USD 1,500,000 in assets, 960,000 people, have already or are planning to do so. Reportedly, this ‘rich [...]

[...] with more than USD 15,000,000 in individual assets have already emigrated abroad, and around 60% of those with more than USD 1,500,000 in assets, 960,000 people, have already or are planning to do so. Reportedly, this ‘rich [...]

[...] with more than US dollar (USD) 15,000,000 in individual assets have already emigrated abroad, and around 60% of those with more than USD 1,500,000 in assets, 960,000 people, have already or are planning to do so. Reportedly, this ‘rich [...]

[...] with more than US dollar (USD) 15,000,000 in individual assets have already emigrated abroad, and around 60% of those with more than USD 1,500,000 in assets, 960,000 people, have already or are planning to do so. Reportedly, this ‘rich [...]

[...] 議論を呼びそうな調査結果が 々あるが、中に以下のよう ものがある。1500万米ドル以 の個人資産を持っている中国 人大富豪2万人のうち、27%が でに海外に移民している。 た、個人資産150万米ドル以上 の者のうち、60%にあたる96万 人も、すでに海外に移民して るか、移民の計画を立てて る。報告書によると、この「 大富豪の大量移住」は2009年に 始まった。 投資移民をお考えの方はこち ! [...]

[...] plus de 15 millions USD en avoir individuels, 27 % ont déjà émigré à l'étranger, et environ 60 % de ceux possédant plus d'1,5 million USD en avoirs, soit 960 000 personnes, sont déjà partis ou prévoient de le faire. D'après [...]

[...] individuale si attesta sui 15 milioni di dollari, è già scappato all’estero. Il restante 60% dei ricchi, circa 960mila persone con patrimoni stimati sopra 1,5 milioni di dollari,  è già partito [...]

[...] individuale si attesta sui 15 milioni di dollari, è già scappato all'estero. Il restante 60% dei ricchi, circa 960mila persone con patrimoni stimati sopra 1,5 milioni di dollari,  è già partito [...]

[...] 2만명 이상의 중국 백만장자 27 퍼센트가 이미 외국으로 이민을 갔다는 점과 150만 달러의 자산을 가진 60 퍼센트정도 부자들, 96만명의 사람들이 이민을 갔거나 갈 예정이라는 점이었다. 추정에 따르면 [...]

[...] my recent column about many rich Chinese trying to emigrate in the next few years? Australia is always a popular [...]

[...] recently released a report on China’s luxury consumer market. In particular, the report examines High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) defined as individuals with an excess of 6 million renminbi (approximately 950,000 USD). [...]