Nowadays, a saying among Chinese people goes, “The rich are either migrating or on the road to immigration.” Indeed, for the past decade, wealthy Chinese have been seeking their way out of China for many reasons.

A recent article from Newstalk reported that, since 2012, the Irish government has granted about 1,500 residencies to millionaires worldwide. However, among those millionaires, 94% are Chinese nationals. This trend is in line with data released by the Irish Department of Justice earlier this year. From 2018 to 2021, Chinese investors accounted for roughly 93% of approved applicants under the Irish Immigrant Investor Program. 

The number of immigrants peaked in 2019 when more than 15,500 wealthy mainlanders relocated abroad. That was an increase of 50% compared to the previous year. The invasion of rich Chinese outside mainland China has made the headlines worldwide. As for why they flee China, the reasons are varied. Around the early 2010s, the main reasons for leaving China were better education for the children, clean air, food safety, and avoiding crowded urbanization. 

But in recent years, the circumstance within China has become the main factor that triggers the great runaway, also known as the “run philosophy.” 

And just like that, Western countries have become a haven for the wealthy Chinese. Although recent trends show Asian countries are the favored destinations, America remains the top destination for Chinese immigrants. Despite the heavy propaganda against the U.S. and capitalism at home, many Chinese find themselves fonder of the land of opportunity.

Shi Kang was one of the highest-paid writers in China. He led a good life in Beijing with an income of over a million dollars back in 2012. However, a trip to the U.S. changed his vision for the rest of his life. He told Wall Street Journal,

Professor Jin Canrong of Remin University told the news outlet that Chinese emigrants often distinguish the lives in the two countries. That is, although the Western living conditions are better, it’s lonely there. While in China, life is “dirty in chaotic,” but still, it’s interesting to live in. Shi Kang used to hold the same stereotype about Americans. Later, he discovered it wasn’t the case at all.

Julie G. shared the same experience with Shi Kang, but from the perspective of a successful businesswoman. She was leading a wealthy life as the owner of a clothing manufacturer in Suzhou. As it was hard to recruit the workforce for the factory at one point, she then decided to seek new business opportunities in the U.S., mostly because she felt free there. 

In 2015, the Chinese government introduced a new economic reform to prevent the wealthy Chinese from leaving the country in droves. Throughout the years, statistics have shown that the government’s effort still ends up in vain. And until today, the Chinese regime’s attitude in the Russia-Ukraine war has added up to the woe since wealthy Chinese now fear the same sanctions if the Chinese regime goes to war with Taiwan. 

A financial services professional in Singapore told Finacial Times last month that some Chinese billionaires now want “to stop being identified as a Chinese person.” He added, “It is like money laundering. Except you are laundering your own identity.”

The idea of getting rid of “Chinese identity” could be more than that. According to a 2016 documentary from SBS Dateline, the trend has been going on for quite time, and it is really happening. The documentary was filmed in Vancouver, home to over 100,000 Chinese millionaires at the time. The arrival of these millionaires wasn’t merely immigration. It has even sparked a social discussion of whether they’re to blame for the rising real estate price in the city. But, besides that, there’s something more concerning going on.

Danny Quon is a Cantonese dissident. He was running an athlete club in Chinatown in Vancouver. It was founded in 1939, and dedicated to promoting China’s 5,000-year culture and heritage. However, Danny told an SBS reporter that barely any students were coming for lion dance and traditional martial arts classes. The club was on the verge of being shut down due to rising real estate taxes. More importantly, Danny shared his concerns with SBS about the disconnection between the young Chinese millionaires to their own motherland heritage.

Indeed, by the time the documentary was aired in 2016, the second-generation Chinese millionaires had been in the city’s spotlight.

That was feedback from the “Ultra-rich Asian girls'” star Pam Zhao when she paid Chinatown a visit for the first time during her 13 years in Canada. 

The younger Chinese generation’s indifference towards their culture can be seen in the situation of Chinatown in Victoria today. The community has struggled due to poverty and a high crime rate. As many businesses gradually leave Chinatown, the area becomes underdeveloped and a target for vandalism.

Vice-chair of the board of the Chinese Cultural Centre, Bill Kwok told CBC News earlier this year that fires and graffiti have damaged the building. He said, “Our funds are very limited, and when this happens we’re not able to fund our programs properly. And once you set [these buildings] on fire, it’s very historical and there’s a lot of artifacts inside, and it would be a shame to lose all that.” But should the blame be put entirely on the Chinese second generation? Danny of the Hon Hsing athletic club saw the root much more profound.

Due to the Chinese home invasion, life in Vancouver has become saturated for the Chinese emigrants and the Canadians themselves. Rising house prices are just an aspect; many Canadians now see their community disappearing because of Chinese investors’ empty houses in the area. 

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