China’s rich are fed up with lockdowns and want to leave their homes: where would they go?

Most countries have ended pandemic lockdowns and are applying other policies to control the spread of new Covid-19 variants. But unfortunately that is not the case in China, where lockdowns have become a part of everyday life and Chinese people’s freedoms continue to be curtailed.

The problem is that they are fed up with the lockdowns, including the wealthy who want to leave their homes, according to a recent Financial Times report collecting data on immigration inquiries to advisers and internet searches.

The Financial Times report’s findings align with the recently published Henley Global Citizens Report Q2 2022. It showed that 10,000 wealthy Chinese with a net worth of $48 billion want to leave China, the second largest group of wealthy people wanting to leave their homeland after Russia.

The desire of China’s rich to leave their homes is not new. It spans several years, according to several surveys by the Huron Institute, which provides a list of countries to which wealthy Chinese want to immigrate and find a new home.

For example, according to a 2017 survey by the Huron Institute, America is the top travel destination, followed by Canada, the UK and Australia. Moreover, this was the third year that America was the ultimate destination for the wealthy Chinese, despite ongoing trade disputes between the two countries and harsh criticism from Beijing of Washington’s policies at home and abroad.

Apparently, China is a good place to accumulate wealth, but it is not an excellent place to live and enjoy that wealth. America is a better place. Why? What does American society possess that China still needs to develop? It’s hard to say since different individuals have different lists of things they like in a society.

But there is one aspect that American society has developed and preserved for more than two centuries that Chinese society still lacks—the right mix of free markets and governmental institutions.

As? It works best through the use of each institution in spheres of society: free-market institutions in creating wealth, and governmental institutions in creating a “general equality of condition among men–” to quote Alexis De Tocqueville.

State institutions protect civil liberties and economic freedoms. In addition, state institutions address market failures and tend to areas of society where free markets do not perform best, such as the production and allocation of public and mixed goods and economic sectors where individual interests conflict with social welfare. For example, free markets are insufficient to provide and allocate goods such as health and education and to protect citizens from occupational and environmental hazards.

China has yet to develop and maintain this right combination of free markets and state institutions. As it deploys the two institutions backwards in spheres of society, each institution fails. For example, China uses the government to allocate economic resources to the production of private goods and services. The Beijing and prefectural governments act as the ultimate landowners, entrepreneurs and managers, running almost all of the major banks and financing the debt of state-owned companies and urban villages. At the same time, they fail to address market failures such as environmental hazards that affect the quality of life of citizens, including those of the wealthy who want to leave their homes.

Markets are spooked by the prospect of another Covid lockdown in Shanghai, China's largest city

Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL China’s rich are fed up with lockdowns and want to leave their homes: where would they go?

Fry Electronics Team

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