China’s Wealthy Rush to Transfer Assets and Emigrate as Political and Economic Situation Worsens

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Concerned about China’s worsening political climate and its economic repercussions, wealthy Chinese are accelerating the process of emigration and transferring of assets overseas.

Henley & Partners, an investment immigration consultancy based in London, estimates that about 10,000 high-net-worth Chinese—with assets of more than $1 million each—will immigrate abroad in 2022. They will take with them approximately $4.8 million per capita, and an estimated $48 billion will flow out of China, ranking second in the world after Russia’s migration of millionaires.

A report published in July by the U.S. National Association of Realtors shows that, over the past 12 months, Chinese buyers in the U.S. real estate market ranked first in foreign buyer transactions, with a total of $6.1 billion. Fifty-eight percent of these transactions were paid in cash, and the average transaction price was $1 million.

The main reason the affluent are transferring their assets and preparing to leave China appears to be that 2022 is the year of the five-year change of power at the top of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

According to established rules, Chinese leader Xi Jinping should step down at the end of this year when his term ends. But there are many signs that he is trying to change the rules in order to get reelected for another term during the 20th National Congress in October. As a result, the decade-long power struggle between the supporters of Xi and those of former leader Jiang Zemin is becoming more intense.

The political war between the two factions affects rich Chinese and could have dangerous consequences for them. The recent incident involving Shanghai billionaire Guo Guangchang, chairman and co-founder of the Fosun International Limited conglomerate, demonstrates the situation.

Shanghai is the center of the Jiang faction. Commentators say Guo got mixed up in the political struggle between the Xi and Jiang factions. According to Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney, Guo has had close ties to the Jiang faction.

Recently Fosun ran into trouble. In 2022, Fosun found itself no longer expanding but stuck in a liquidity crisis with rising risks of debt default.

On Sept. 13, a notice from the Beijing State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council urged all enterprises under its jurisdiction to sort out their ties with Fosun International Limited and evaluate the risks. After the notice was circulated on the internet, Fosun’s shares dropped.

This forces Fosun to sell its holdings in many companies including Tsingtao Brewery, Zhongshan Public, Hainan Mining, Jinhui Liquor, Fosun Pharma and Fosun Tourism, eventually managing to raise approximately 10 billion yuan (approx. $1.5 billion)

Justin Zhang

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Justin Zhang has been analyzing and writing articles on China issues since 2012. He can be contacted at justinzhang1996@gmail.com



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