Wealthy Families Want To Flee From China; Singapore Among Top Relocation Prospects
CHINA – High-net-worth individuals (HNWI) and their families have become fed up with China’s harsh COVID restrictions that many want to relocate somewhere else, with a growing number of affluent people are shifting their lives and assets to Singapore, reported Fortune magazine on Thursday (21 July, SGT).
In fact, corporate services provider Jenga revealed that the number of enquiries it received about setting up a family office in Singapore doubled from March 2021 to March 2022. The majority of enquiries were from China’s HNWIs.
Notably, Singapore’s global investor program offers a permanent residency to adults who invest at least US$1.8 million in the Southeast Asian country.
In June 2022, Yimeng Huang, a Shanghai-based billionaire who is the Chairman and Chief Executive of gaming firm XD, revealed in a company memo that he and his family would relocate from China. The memo was leaked onto the internet and it went viral on Chinese social media, triggering netizen discussions on the increasing number of prominent entrepreneurs looking to leave China.
“I’m preparing my family to move abroad by next year. It’s still a plan though, and anything can happen in a year. I’m prioritizing both my family and the business. The scale of our overseas business is only growing,” stated Huang.
“My ideal scenario is to see China’s COVID-19 quarantine policies relaxed a year from now, then China’s international relations can only improve and be more open, then we can all move around as the needs of our work and lives dictate,” he added.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s zero-COVID strategy appeared to have worked. The country had largely kept the virus under control, while western countries struggled with the virus outbreak.
However, cracks in Beijing’s strategy started to appear and it is especially evident this year. Apart from significantly impacting people’s mental health and leaving some people with serious medical conditions unable to get treatment, the policy has badly affected both local and foreign businesses operating in the nation. Millions of small businesses have closed over the last two years, while multinational companies have become fed up with two years of stringent curbs.
In turn, Chinese economic growth decelerated significantly in Q2 2022, rising by merely 0.4 percent, while the country’s youth unemployment hit a record 18 percent.
By March, searches on China’s most popular messaging and social media app, WeChat, for “how to move to Canada” surged 3,000 percent. In April, 23 percent of respondents for a European Chamber of Commerce poll said they were looking to move their investments in China to other countries. By May, Chinese netizens had called the mass movement of people wanting to emigrate the “run philosophy”, and on Chinese question-and-answer website Zhihu, the post explaining the phrase has been viewed more than 9 million times.