Interest In Immigration Surges As Wealthy Chinese Look To Flee Shanghai

Interest In Immigration Surges As Wealthy Chinese Look To Flee Shanghai

As even many foreigners who live in Shanghai have been swept up in China’s strict quarantine measures, as we showed over the weekend, the FT reports that many wealthy residents of Shanghai are looking to leave, following the brutal lockdown measures that have forced millions of people to stockpile food and other necessary supplies – or even go without food or essential medical care, sometimes with deadly consequences. 

Immigration consultants who spoke with the FT said requests from wealthy individuals looking to leave Shanghai have soared since the lockdown started three weeks ago. And many clients who had postponed previous plans to leave due to fears that they stood a higher chance of contracting the virus outside China have revived their efforts.

And to show that there’s more than just anecdotal data behind this, the FT cited a surge in WeChat searches for “immigration” by people in Shanghai. These searches have reportedly increased 7x.

“The authorities are making people sacrifice their basic needs to fight a disease that’s a bit more severe than seasonal flu,” said James Chen, a Shanghai-based consultant. “Our clients chose to vote with their feet.”

“I have had so many inquiries over the past few weeks that I couldn’t reply to them in a timely manner,” said an agent at QWOS, a Shanghai-based immigration services company, who received more than 200 requests on Saturday.

One immigration consultant told the FT that she hasn’t been this busy in “months”.

Lucy Wang, the owner of an immigration consultancy in the south-western city of Chengdu, said she was working 12 hours a day fielding client requests. “I haven’t been so busy for many months,” she said.

Some of the potential emigres who spoke with the FT cited the Shanghai lockdown as the primary motivation for their efforts.

“I have never thought about being confined to my home for many days without enough to eat,” said Jane Wang, a 38-year-old Shanghai-based marketing researcher who contacted QWOS after more than four weeks of home quarantine. “What happened in Shanghai made me feel insecure,” she added. “I want to live in a place without worrying about being quarantined arbitrarily.”

In terms of potential destinations, Singapore is one popular option, as another potential emigre pointed out.

“I don’t feel welcome in the US when American politicians and media outlets keep saying negative things about China,” said John Li, a Beijing-based engineer who gave up his dream of moving to San Francisco and paid agents Rmb40,000 ($6,300) last week to obtain a Singaporean residence permit. “I want to move to a country where Chinese people are respected.”

Still, international travel restrictions and other obstacles remain that could delay potential emigres’ plans by many months.

“One who wants to reside in another country has to be accepted by that country and go through a complicated admission process,” said Cong Cao, a professor at the University of Nottingham Ningbo. “The current situation in Shanghai and many other Chinese cities may accelerate the exodus of some affected middle-class families but it’s too early to say whether it becomes a trend.”

Whether or not their interest will cool once life returns to normal and Shanghai remains to be seen.

Tyler Durden
Mon, 04/18/2022 – 23:25

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