The duel between China and COVID-19 is on another episode after a brief off-time period in the summer. This time, some Chinese opulent have had enough. 

One such example is Shanghai restaurateur Harry Hu, who told Bloomberg that leaving China once was an impossible life decision for him until the pandemic. His patience has been tested to its limit with the zero-COVID policy, and the government’s recently tightened immigration control tactics play little deterrence.

Hu told the outlet, “Can you imagine that I almost starved to death at the beginning of the lockdown in the most developed city in China? I am very sad, but it is time to leave.”

Shanghai migration consultant Sumil said, “I’ve seen those who used to hesitate about emigration finally make up their mind this time.”

Since late 2020, the Chinese government has discouraged non-essential travel, claiming Covid preventive efforts as justification. In May, China’s National Immigration Administration announced that it would enforce travel restrictions on citizens who make unnecessary outbound trips and tighten the entrance and exit document approval process.

Moving capital out of the country is also more challenging. While China only allows citizens to convert 50,000 yuan into foreign currency each year, large-scale money transfers have also become more difficult. 

International counterparties who had previously assisted Chinese citizens in evading capital controls through private swap agreements have become more tentative. One anonymous Hong Kong-based private banker said moving money into China has become less desirable now.

Beijing has also snapped on cryptocurrency, with practically all cryptocurrency-related activity, such as exchanges, initial coin offerings, mining, and transactions, no longer legal at present.

Still, migration experts and attorneys in China said that relocation-related inquiries increased three- to five-fold in the spring of Shanghai’s lockdown compared to a year earlier. 

A survey by Henley and Partners in June showed that China stands only behind Russia for having the highest estimated rate of high-net-worth individuals who would leave their homeland. The group expected that about 48 billion dollars would be extracted from the country as a result.

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