http://www.spiegel.de/international/wor ... 92,00.html
"Fleeing the People's Paradise
Successful Chinese Emigrating to West in Droves
By Wieland Wagner
Despite their country's stunning economic growth, many successful Chinese entrepreneurs are emigrating to the West. For them, the Chinese government is too arbitrary and unpredictable, and they view their children's prospects as better in the West.
Though the room is already overcrowded, more listeners keep squeezing in, making it necessary to bring in additional chairs for the stragglers. Outside on the streets of Beijing, the usual Saturday afternoon shopping bustle is in full swing. But above the clamor, in the quiet of this elegant office high-rise, the audience is intent on listening to a man who can help them start a new life, one far away from China.
Li Zhaohui, 51, turns on the projector and photographs flicker across the screen behind him. Some show Li himself, head of one of China's largest agencies for emigration visas, which has more than 100 employees. Other pictures show Li's business partner in the United States. Still others show Chinese people living in an idyllic American suburb. Li has already successfully arranged for these people to leave the People's Republic of China.
Li's free and self-confident way of speaking precisely embodies the Western lifestyle that those in his audience dream of. Originally trained as a physicist, Li emigrated to Canada in 1989. In the beginning, he developed microchips in Montreal, but he says he found the job boring. Then he found his true calling: helping Chinese entrepreneurs and businesspeople escape.
Of course, Li doesn't use the term "escape." Emigration from China is legal and, with its population of 1.3 billion, the country certainly has enough people left over.
Likewise, hardly anyone in the audience is actually planning to burn every bridge with their native country. Almost everyone in the room owns companies, villas and cars in China.
Many of them, in fact, can thank China's Communist Party for their success. But along their way to the top, they've developed other needs, the kind only a person with a full stomach feels, as the Chinese saying goes. It's a type of hunger that can't be satisfied as long as the person is living under a one-party dictatorship.
These people long to live in a constitutional state that would protect them from the party's whims. And they want to enjoy their wealth in countries where it's possible to lead a healthier life than in China, which often resembles one giant factory, with the stench and dust to match.
These longings have led many people in China to pursue foreign citizenship for themselves and their families. The most popular destinations are the US and Canada, countries with a tradition of immigration. "Touzi yimin" are the magic words Li impresses tirelessly upon his listeners. Loosely translated, it means "immigration by investment."
Benefitting at Home, But Hoping to Get Out
Several months a year, Li says he travels through the US selecting suitable investment projects for his clients -- construction projects, for example, that would qualify Chinese investors and their families for long-term American visas.
Li's clients value discretion. A hyped-up sales pitch would only scare them away or push them into the arms of competitors. There are more than 800 similar agencies throughout the country, all offering their services in procuring "touzi yimin." Some simply send their advertisements as text messages.
Zhang Yongjun, 41, and his family already have one foot out the door. Zhang sits at his company's long, leather-upholstered conference table on the 31th floor of Beijing's Overseas Plaza. Outside his window, the sun's rays barely penetrate the brown smog. In just a few weeks, Zhang plans to start a new life with his wife and two daughters in Vancouver, Canada.
It took the entrepreneur four years to obtain a "Maple Leaf Card," the Canadian equivalent of the American green card. Canada's permanent resident card also offers the option of applying for citizenship after three years. To obtain it, Zhang put the equivalent of €300,000 ($400,000) in a Canadian investment fund.
"I'm taking this step for my children's sake," Zhang says. The plan is for his wife to settle permanently in Canada with the children. There, they can breathe clean air and attend schools that will teach them to be more cosmopolitan. Zhang himself will hold onto his Chinese citizenship and commute between Beijing and Vancouver since he doesn't want to lose the source of his wealth back in China.
Zhang pushes his two smartphones back and forth on the table in front of him. He brings in several million euros worth of profit each year from making software and devices for the national lottery. Although he dresses modestly, he owns property in Beijing and two other cities. His wife is a homemaker. Urban couples are legally only allowed to have one child, but for a 60,000 yuan (€7,200/$9,500) fine -- an amount it would take a migrant worker three years to earn -- Zhang bought himself the right to a second child. "The expense was worth it," he says.
In January, the family celebrated Chinese New Year abroad, as they do every year. Zhang estimates that he was on vacation for about half of the last year........"