Wealth Migration from Mainland China: International Investor Residency Schemes and Illegal Money-Moving As a Special Case of the Migration Industry

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Jack BARBALET, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
The current literature on Chinese business migration stresses a number of connected themes. One is the link between ethnicity and entrepreneurship, typically emphasizing family structure, the mobilization of guanxi obligations, and Confucian ideology. Another is transnational networks, generally focused on regional South-east Asian and East Asian connections, but with a growing awareness of European and North American nodes. What is typically ignored, though, is Chinese business migration that results not from the relative lack of opportunities in China but is a strategy for the preservation of wealth generated through the rise of China since the 1980s. The significant movement of capital out of China that is invested in North American, European and Australasian economies is achieved by new regimes of residency and citizenship schemes developed by neo-liberal Western states, often with implicit reference to the needs of Chinese nationals to expatriate funds from mainland China in defiance of domestic anti-corruption policies. The investor-residency schemes offered by Western governments are one element of the ‘migration industry’ serving wealthy Chinese national emigrants. The other pertinent element for this group is the illegal structure developed to overcome the stringent regulations designed to limit the movement of money out of China, permitting expatriation of enormous wealth to facilitate Chinese investor-residency visa holders taking up legal domicile in the US, Europe and Australasia.