Many of China’s wealthiest citizens have increasingly sought to emigrate from the country in recent months as the Chinese Communist Party has instituted some of the world’s strictest lockdowns as part of its “Zero-COVID” policy.
Roughly 13,000 high-net-worth individuals plan to leave China and Hong Kong within the next year and are poised to bring roughly $60 billion in total assets with them, according to a report from investment migration consultancy firm Henley & Partners.
The large-scale exodus comes partly as a result of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s particularly aggressive “zero-COVID” policy, according to Fortune, in which regions with elevated positivity rates have been placed under strict lockdowns that have led to food shortages and riots and COVID patients have been forced to wear electronic monitoring ankle bracelets.
Yimeng Huang, the CEO of a popular Chinese gaming company, told employees in June that he’d be relocating from China in an internal memo that was leaked to the internet, prompting online debates about the growing number of high net worth individuals leaving the country which commentators have dubbed the “run movement,” Fortune reported.
“I’m preparing my family to move abroad by next year. It’s still a plan though, and anything can happen in a year,” Huang wrote to employees, adding that “my ideal scenario is to see China’s COVID-19 quarantine policies relaxed a year from now,” according to Fortune.
Mr. Huang did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Internet searches for “emigration” have also surged inside China and Hong Kong, according to NPR.
“General wealth growth in the country has been slowing over the past few years. As such, recent outflows of HNWIs may be more damaging than in the past,” Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, said in Henley & Partners’ report.
In light of this potential capital drain, the Chinese government is doing what it can to keep affluent civilians from heading overseas. Passport issuance has been drastically reduced, and local governments are reported to be dragging their feet on marriage licenses and birth certificates needed for visa applications, according to NPR.
“The [doors] are gradually closing. It’s pretty scary,” another anonymous Chinese citizen told NPR.
The zero-COVID policy enjoyed some support from the Chinese public during the first year of the pandemic, but increasingly severe measures caused many Chinese people to sour on the strategy, Axios reported.
“I feel like China has really crossed the balance. And they’ve really been too severe, to the point of violating human rights, violating their freedom of movement and freedom of speech,” one anonymous Chinese citizen told NPR.
The Chinese embassy did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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