2012 November 11 Sunday
More Chinese Work Abroad

A New York Times article looks at the trend for more professional Chinese to seek to work abroad even as living standards rise in China.

A manager based in Shanghai at an engineering company, who asked not to be named, said he invested earlier this year in a New York City real estate project in hopes of eventually securing a green card. A sharp-tongued blogger on current events as well, he said he has been visited by local public security officials, hastening his desire for a United States passport.

“A green card is a feeling of safety,” the manager said. “The system here isn’t stable and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. I want to see how things turn out here over the next few years.”

While some cite political fears is that really a big incentive? If living standards in Western countries were the same how many would still leave?

What I'm trying to understand: Is there a big potential market for better governments? Is there some way to organize some of the smartest professionals to funnel into a few smaller countries in such large numbers that they could politically dominate them?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 November 11 10:53 AM 

Hubbard said at November 11, 2012 12:46 PM:

I'm sure there's a market for well governed nations, and somebody will try to exploit it. The most logical candidate for this seems to be Singapore right now--note how they've recently poached Eduardo Saverin from the US.

Krishna said at November 11, 2012 6:50 PM:

@Hubbard: Hmm, interesting thought. But Singapore is probably on the way down the tubes for the same reason as California. Everyone notices the relative handful of high-profile Western immigrants they attract like Jim Rogers, Eduardo Saverin, and Derek Sivers, or their Chinese equivalents. No one but Singaporeans themselves notices the tens of thousands of Bangladeshis, Indonesians, and Filipinos per year quietly getting permanent residence at the same time. Unlike the Westerners they see a Singaporean passport as an upgrade and naturalise quickly, providing a vote bank that will keep the ruling party in office even as the quality of its policies declines past the point that productive natives stop voting for them. (Even Saverin, who renounced US citizenship, is holding on to his Brazilian passport and not becoming Singaporean, probably because he doesn't want his kids to have to serve in the army.)

Hong Kong is the obvious competitor to Singapore, and their immigrants (virtually all mainland Chinese) will probably revert to a higher IQ mean than Singapore's. The problem is the short term: Hong Kong attracts too few managers from Shanghai, and too many uneducated inland peasant women and children who end up in menial labor. In the short term the quality of Hong Kong's policymaking will go down: factions from both the ruling and opposition parties are tacking left and proposing all sorts of welfare goodies to attract the votes of the immigrant lumpenproletariat, and of course more taxes like a capital gains tax to pay for it. Chamber of Commerce types on the ruling side and educated professionals on the opposition side keep a lid on this tendency, but for how long?

Arabs may not be particularly bright, but at least the UAE understands how to use guestworkers without screwing up their society any more screwed up than it is already: keep them from becoming citizens and getting their hands on the welfare at all costs, and send them back home at the end of their careers.

YIH said at November 11, 2012 6:59 PM:

The old phrase ''reading the writing on the wall'' comes to mind.
Over the past decade an astounding amount of real estate development has taken place in China. Trouble is, it's nearly all empty. Whole ''ghost cities'' of development.
China is depending on continued export growth to keep all this malinvestment going but with the economies of Europe and North America slowing the ability to buy all that stuff being made is also slowing.
What little is known about China's internal politics is also discouraging, it appears the Central Committee could possibly implode from infighting, grossly overextended debt and corruption.
They are 'headed for the lifeboats' while they can, and who can blame them?

Randall Parker said at November 17, 2012 9:00 PM:


The CCP Central Committee is not going to implode from infighting. These men are very much consensus-makers and it would not occur to them to do anything other than to make deals and come to agreements.

The Chinese economy's growth has definitely decelerated and it is not going to return to the growth rates it had over the last few decades. The easiest growth has already happened.


I had no idea that Singapore was going thru such a large demographic transformation. Do any mainland Chinese immigrate to Singapore?

Also, why don't the Singaporeans shift their voting more rapidly toward a party that would raise the bar for immigration?

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