Australia is top immigration destination for wealthy Chinese

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Australia topped the latest list of the most popular destinations for rich Chinese who want to get overseas citizenship or permanent residency through investment.

A report by the Chinese website of Forbes said factors including housing prices and investment thresholds have been taken into account in designing the list. Other factors included the host country's security, social welfare, economic development and political system.

Second on the list is New Zealand, followed by Germany, Sweden and Singapore.

More than 25,500 Chinese received permanent residency in Australia in 2011 through 2012, and about 18 per cent of them achieved their "green card" through investment, according to the Annual Report on Chinese International Migration 2014 published by the Social Sciences Academic Press and the Center for China and Globalisation, an independent think tank in Beijing.

China emerged as the largest source for Australia's investment migration during the period, accounting for 64 per cent. The rate was less than 8 per cent one decade ago, the report said.

Chen Ye, a 32-year-old from Shanghai, is applying to emigrate to Australia.

An investment of A$5 million (S$5.83 million) for a better education and living environment for her young son sounds like a good deal, said Chen, whose husband owns a shipping company.

"Life is very comfortable in Australia and my son won't face fierce competition to go to a good university and to find a job there like we do in China," she said.

As Canada has tightened its investor immigration plan and economic prospects in Europe remain murky, Australia and New Zealand have won more Chinese hearts, said Yang Fang, a business director from Globevisa, an immigration agency in Beijing.

However, more and more Chinese are showing growing enthusiasm in buying properties in European countries like Portugal, Spain and Greece to get permanent residency.

"The housing prices in these countries almost dropped to the level of 10 to 20 years ago due to the European debt crisis. Besides, many European countries encourage overseas residents to buy properties in their countries to get permanent residency in order to boost their economies, which are attractive for rich Chinese," she explained.

Asian countries such as Malaysia and South Korea have become increasingly popular for wealthy Chinese, she said.

In the past, most wealthy Chinese emigrated to obtain overseas identities, but now more choose to optimise their investments, especially as many cities in China restrict house purchases and plan to introduce property taxes to curb speculation, she added.

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