Jack Ma’s Immigration Hoax; The Exodus of China’s Rich
China has been seeing a trend of rich mainlanders
leaving the country in recent years.
Recent statistics show that nearly half of China richest
intend to relocate to other countries within the next five years.
Add to that the nearly 30 percent of Chinese tycoons who’ve
already emigrated, and you’ve got 70 percent
of China’s wealthy population going abroad, which can be said
to be the largest proportion of wealthy emigrants in the world.
Observers say that emigration has become the means of
self-defense for Chinese wealthy who feel unsafe in China.
On the morning of Sept. 17, Alibaba Group, which will soon
be listed in the U.S., has unexpectedly posted on its official
page on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, saying that
the Group’s President Jack Ma has a permanent residence
registered in Hangzhou, and has no plans to emigrate.
The statement also said that popular online rumors
claiming that Ma had emigrated Hong Kong are false.
This statement a response to a previous report
by the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
The report said that Ma’s immigration to Hong Kong
via investment was revealed during a promotional event
for Alibaba in Hong Kong, and he will become a permanent
resident of Hong Kong at the end of next year.
The report also said Ma also revealed that he purchased
a house in Hong Kong and wants to live out his old age there.
The two opposing arguments, one claiming to “break news"
and one claiming to “refute rumors" have attracted much
attention and discussion among netizens.
Interestingly, the majority of netizens say that Ma has left,
reasoning that most who are able to emigrate from China do.
Some netizens say the statement by Alibaba Group is a smoke
screen, as it has no mention any immigration to Hong Kong.
Additionally, Ma subsequently stated he’d move
to Hong Kong instead of immigrating,
making netizens assured Ma is playing with words.
It’s an indisputable fact that wealthy mainlanders are keen to
emigrate, regardless of whether Ma immigrated to Hong Kong.
A survey report by the international finance corporation
Barclays says that 47 percent of rich mainland Chinese people
are considering emigrating to the developed countries
within the next five years.
This figure is much higher than the average ratio of 29 percent
from other surveyed countries.
Li Shanjian, independent China commentator: “My personal
opinion is that 50 percent is very conservative.
I believe the ratio would have been even higher if the privacy
of the respondents was fully guaranteed."
Additionally, the Hurun Research Institute’s survey this year
showed that the proportion of wealthy Chinese immigrants
is up to 64 percent, one third of whom are worth more than
1 billion yuan ($162.8 million) and have already immigrated.
Why are wealthy Chinese so keen on emigrating?
Gong Shengli, Chinese financial think-tank researcher:
“The first reason is the political environment has changed.
Many of today’s rich Chinese made their wealth
from ill-gotten gains, and this is an important aspect.
Second is the damage to the natural environment, including air,
land, and water, making human survival more troublesome.
Lastly, because of one-party rule,
there are no checks and balances in the legal environment,
and so the culture itself has also been changed,."
The investigative report from Barclays reveals that the main
reason Chinese responders say they want to emigrate is
to have their children get a better education and employment
opportunities, accounting for 78 percent of responses;
economic security and an ideal climate each accounted for
73 percent; and better health care and benefits accounted
for 18 percent of responses.
Although for a variety of factors, concern for children’s
education took the highest proportion, analysts say that
in addition to good education in Western countries,
the rich want to take advantage of the children
to leave themselves a way out.
Most observers say that the main reason for wealthy mainland
Chinese immigrants is their feeling a lack of security.
Li Shanjian: “Many people actually got themselves
a way to escape by sending their children out.
Because in China, no matter how much wealth or power one
has, one is full of uncertainty for one’s own future and safety."
Li says the mainland’s unique political environment decides
that people can’t become a billionaire by merely complying
with the law of business and investment regulations.
Often factional struggle will destroy the massive wealth
received through collusion or unfair means.
Some billionaires can’t even ensure their own safety.
In that case, even the re-established legal system is useless.
The only means of self-protection is to flee China.
Interview & Edit/Zhang Tianyu Post-Production/Li Zhiyuan