14 August 2012

Like Rats from a Sinking Ship, Ex-Pats and the Super Rich Are Looking to Desert China

After some 23 years in China, and this year, 20 with the firm I established, Dezan Shira & Associates, it is time to move on. But why? China has been very good to me of course, it took a 30 year old with no real sense of direction in his career and turned him into a millionaire entrepreneur with offices around the world. So why change that?

... there is never really just one simple reason for leaving a country one has resided in for a long time, although I have seen many expats after awhile become disenchanted and even cynical about China in particular. “If you don’t like it, leave” chant the slightly more patriotic of our Chinese friends. And they’re right, albeit up to a point. And the disenchantments about China are many and varied... _Chris Devonshire-Ellis "Why I'm Leaving China

Mark Kitto goes into even more depth in discussing his reasons for leaving China after many years there:
....you’ll never become Chinese, no matter how hard you try, or want to, or think you ought to. I wanted to be Chinese, once. I don’t mean I wanted to wear a silk jacket and cotton slippers, or a Mao suit and cap and dye my hair black and proclaim that blowing your nose in a handkerchief is disgusting. I wanted China to be the place where I made a career and lived my life. For the past 16 years it has been precisely that. But now I will be leaving.

I won’t be rushing back either. I have fallen out of love, woken from my China Dream. “But China is an economic miracle: record number of people lifted out of poverty in record time… year on year ten per cent growth… exports… imports… infrastructure… investment…saved the world during the 2008 financial crisis…” The superlatives roll on. We all know them, roughly.

Don’t you think, with all the growth and infrastructure, the material wealth, let alone saving the world like some kind of financial whizz James Bond, that China would be a happier and healthier country? At least better than the country emerging from decades of stultifying state control that I met and fell in love with in 1986 when I first came here as a student? I don’t think it is. _Mark Kitto: You'll Never Be Chinese
Kitto goes on to describe the ugly and rising strain of xenophobic nationalism sweeping across China. This xenophobia appears to be the best tool China's leaders have to keep the giant empire from spinning apart in a centrifugal cataclysm of corrupt alienation. Read the article to understand what I mean.

And China's super-rich? They are simply trying to find a way to preserve their assets -- whether obtained honestly or dishonestly.
Wealthy people are leaving China. Many of them are kleptocrats, corrupt officals and financial criminals, and some are seeking havens in the U.S. and Canada...

...up to 18,000 officials had fled China between 1995 and 2008 with stolen assets totaling 800 billion yuan (US$125.7 billion).” Of late this trend and hot money outflows has been rapidly gathering steam.

China has gone full tilt into Ponzi schemes. Now that domestic stock markets are widely considered rife with fraud (China’s eleventh richest businessman jailed for stock fraud), the con men in China have conjured up “wealth management” scams to fleece the public and on a rather colossal scale. These are actively marketed by large banks. _Superwealthy Leaving Country
Much more at the linked story.

China is not alone among emerging nations, in terms of capital and human flight. Once again, Russia's own capital and human flight is picking up steam, worsening the bear's demographic crisis to new depths.

Brian Wang argues that all of this pessimistic talk about China is being overdone.

Read Brian's piece linked above, and the articles he links, then read this.

Meanwhile, be careful where you put your assets, yourself, and the people you care about. You may not always have sufficient warning to get out in time.

More: Rich Chinese parents want to send children overseas for education


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Blogger Chris Devonshire-Ellis said...

Actually what I said was that I was moving on because China is both a ypunger man's game; my business has expanded outside of the country; and I need to promote our China and other Asian services in North America. I continue to invest in China and am categorically NOT deserting it. You got the Rat part right though. I was born in 1960.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012  
Blogger praguestepchild said...

Kitto's article was interesting and articulate--but I have to point out, as a longtime expat myself, that expats ALWAYS bitch about their adopted countries and usually ended up returning home burned out, only to realize that home wasn't as great as they remembered in the first place. And if one has spent long enough abroad one never really feels fully at home anywhere, I think. So one has to take all this anecdotal stuff with a large heaping of salt. That being said, there's nothing I've heard that would make me want to be in a position of sending my kid to public school in China.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

Chris: Thanks for the comment. Your article is quite diplomatic toward China while pointing out a number of serious problems. There is certainly much that can be "read between the lines," and I will leave it to readers to decide what is being left unsaid.

PSC: What you say is certainly true. And yet, Kitto was quite specific about how he has been treated by the Chinese authorities at multiple levels, and his sense about where things are headed. Such assertions go beyond the subjective, and can be verified.

For most of us, home is where we choose to build it. It takes work, wherever you are. Some locations are much more difficult to make a home than others.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012  
Blogger Eric said...

Usually culture shock sits in after 3-6 months, not decades after immigrating.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012  
Blogger MnMark said...

The observation that foreigners in China will never be considered "Chinese" is interesting. I would make a guess that that is true for essentially every country on earth except for the West. Only the white people of Europe and North America are saying that anyone can come to their countries and become one of them. Other countries may be more or less welcoming to foreigners and may be more or less ethnocentric but its really only the white Westerners who are busily taking it to the point that they have a realistic chance (especially Americans) of being dispossessed in their own countries.

I think it is a lesson that liberal whites are going to have to learn the hard way and that the rest of us whites who aren't liberal are going to have suffer from because of the liberals. It's like the white liberals in South Africa who agitated to end apartheid with the promise that if only whites would share political power without any identity as a distinct people maintaining a country for themselves, that the blacks who outnumber them 20-1 and would immediately have total political power would treat the minority whites as equals and not discriminate. And now those same white liberals are quietly emigrating to Europe and Australia, leaving behind the whites who can't afford to move or can't get permission to enter another, whiter, country.

There is a fundamental mistake white liberals make about human nature: that identity and peoplehood can be divorced from race and religion and can be arbitrarily redeveloped based on ideology. I think the facts demonstrate that this is not the case. It is like the short-lived experiment in 1930s communist Russia where they tried to take everyone's children away to raise in a central child-raising facility, on the theory that loyalties to family had to be broken up so that loyalty to the state would not be compromised in any way. That ended very quickly. People have a deep inborn attachment to their blood relatives and their ethnic and racial groups are their extended families. White liberals are bringing down real pain on the rest of us with their refusal to acknowledge that. The Chinese have no such illusions.

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

MM: Leftists are not the only ones displaying an over-reliance on ideology. Religionists do the same thing -- in fact it is western religion which may be largely at fault for creating the western blindness to the dangers of over-rapid immigration of unassimilable populations into western countries.

That is ironic, since religion could just as easily serve as a conduit of xenophobia and violence against intruders from the outside.

Religion is ideology, of course.

At the Al Fin Institute for Better Thinking, we promote the abandonment of ideology in favour of improved, flexible systems of thinking. Needless to say, our representatives are not welcome in China. ;-)

Wednesday, 15 August, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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