8.22.2016 | The Chinese Exodus – Part 2 – Tweed Economics
The History of Chinese Emigration
Ever since the period of the great emperors, the Chinese have traveled overseas in pursuit of fortune, knowledge and adventure. Sailing junks took merchants to Manila to trade silk and porcelain for silver. The largest previous emigration though, known as the Chinese diaspora, was seen from the 19th century to 1949 and was largely the result of wars and starvation in mainland China. The majority of immigrants leaving were peasants and manual labourers, described as “coolies’ (literally: “Hard Labor”) who emigrated to work in the mines and plantations of the Americas, Australia, Southeast Asia and South Africa.
However, through much of China’s history, immigration has been limited by strict controls preventing large groups leaving the country. In the 1980s more liberalized emigration policies were enacted, leading at first to more students and scholars departing to study at foreign universities; a flow that has steadily increased in recent years. The number of wealthy mainlanders has grown 23% yearly even while the country’s economy slows down. Despite their wealth, large scores of Chinese nationals continue to leave the country for overseas homes.
Where are the most popular destinations?
In Australia, one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, emigrants and students, Mandarin Chinese is now the second-most widely spoken language after English. Australia is the first most visited tourist destination by China’s high net-worth individuals, followed by France, then Dubai, Switzerland and the Maldives.
In terms of those who want to emigrate, according to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong is the most important global city, while the U.S. is the preferred destination because for a variety of reasons. In part because of its property market, medical services and friendly immigration policy, and also because it is home to most of the world’s top universities. Britain comes second, and Canada third.
Canada dismantled its controversial investor visa scheme in 2014, which in part accounts for the drop in numbers of new immigrants from China. In the US In 2015, under the EB-5 program, the government issued 6,895 visas to Chinese nationals. The EB-5 program allows foreigners to live in the U.S. as long as they invest $500,000 or above.