People have their own opinions about billionaires, however, it can’t be denied that it means something significant if all of them are trying to leave the country. This is what is happening with China’s billionaires. Apparently, nearly all of them are trying to flee the country. If they are successful, they will take $60 billion of wealth with them.
China’s Billionaires Are Trying To Flee The Country
Last month, prominent billionaire and the CEO and chairman of gaming company XD Yimeng Huang announced in an internal company memo his plans to relocate with his family to somewhere outside of China. Someone leaked the email onto the internet, and from there it started conversations about the number of prominent business people in China who are trying to leave. In the memo, Huang wrote:
“My ideal scenario is to see China’s COVID-19 quarantine policies relaxed a year from now, then China’s international relations can only improve and be more open, then we can all move around as the needs of our work and lives dictate,” (1)
China’s rigorous COVID-19 control measures that continue to persist have many business people wanting to leave. Doing business, especially internationally, in China has been extremely difficult ever since the pandemic began. With no end in sight to China’s strict zero-tolerance COVID strategy in sight, many have simply decided that their only option is to leave.
Of course, if China’s billionaires and wealthiest people all leave the country, their wealth goes with them. In total, that could be a whopping $60 billion.
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It Isn’t Quite So Simple
Naturally, China doesn’t want its citizens – especially its billionaires – to leave. Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has damaged their economy, people leaving and taking their money with them is not what they want. For this, the Chinese authorities have put some pretty tough hurdles in place to make it hard for people to leave.
China’s immigration department announced in May strict restrictions on “non-essential exits” for Chinese citizens, as well as strict entry policies. They said that this was still due to the coronavirus, however, many have their doubts. Many in China see this as the government’s way of preventing the country’s wealthiest and smartest people from leaving.
These policies have made it difficult for citizens to obtain the documentation they need to leave, including obtaining passports. The government put a hold on passport renewals last year for those requiring them for “non-essential travel”. Some city authorities are not notarizing marriage and birth certificates that could allow people to apply for visas. Statistics show that currently only about 10% of the Chinese population hold passports.
The Chinese government also imposed strict rules about money moving in and out of the country. In a year, Chinese citizens are limited to exchange only a maximum of $50,000 worth of Chinese Yen for a foreign currency in a year. They have also recently banned most cryptocurrencies, which was formerly a workaround for this exchange policy.
The Run Philosophy
This influx of people wanting to, planning to, or successfully moving out of China has been called the “run philosophy”. Users of a Chinese question-and-answer website similar to Quora explained this philosophy. They explained that as citizens they have zero power to change things, nor are they able to speak out. So instead, they leave.
“I can’t change or condemn the current situation in China,” Clara Xie, a 25-year-old Jiangsu-based model, told the New York Times in May. “And if you can’t change it, all you can do is run.” (2)
This is understandable, as the Chinese government has proven time and time again that those who speak out against them will not be tolerated. One of the most high-profile cases of this was the disappearance of China’s wealthiest man Jack Ma. The charismatic founder of The Ant Group, the world’s largest fintech company, criticized the Chinese financial industry establishment in a now-famous speech. Days later, he disappeared. Since then, he has hardly been seen since. He appeared once in a video explaining why he had taken time away from the spotlight, but he was a shell of his former, flamboyant, charismatic self. Many doubt the authenticity of the video. (3)