Middle class joins elites in renouncing their Chinese citizenship
Elite Chinese people seeking political asylum were not uncommon during the communist party's seven-decade rule, but it has now turned into a mass exodus in President Xi Jinping's regime.
China: Elite Chinese people seeking political asylum were not uncommon during the communist party's seven-decade rule, but it has now turned into a mass exodus in President Xi Jinping's regime.
The harsh crackdowns on minority communities, free speech advocates, academics, activists, and even business magnates and celebrities have resulted in a mass exodus.
Stringent lockdowns and government tyranny during the Covid-19 pandemic have only exacerbated the problem, as it also harms people's livelihoods, forcing the middle class to seek refuge in another country.
Despite the fact that people are aware of the difficulties in obtaining asylum due to strict lockdowns, the number of applications has skyrocketed in the last three years.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the total number of asylum seekers from China in 2012 was 15,362. However, it continued to grow rapidly, reaching 1,08,071 in 2020.  It appears to have surpassed the 120,000 mark this year.
During Jinping's presidency, more than 6,13,000 people applied for asylum. People on the mainland and in Hong Kong are making desperate attempts to relocate abroad, particularly to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
According to Ivy Cui, who runs an immigration agency in Shanghai, people are panicking and want to leave China as soon as possible.
In China, there is widespread resentment of draconian restrictions, authoritarian rule, and crackdowns on public dissent and freedom of expression. Jinping, on the other hand, has attempted to seize control of every sector, from business to education to entertainment.
This encroachment has enraged a large segment of society. Billionaires are giving up citizenship.
By 2020, more than 500 Chinese elites would have left the country. As repression in the name of Covid-19 management has increased, many such wealthy businessmen are relocating elsewhere.
As a result of the increased crackdown in the entertainment industry, many Chinese celebrities, including Nicholas Tse, Arthur Chen Feiyu, and Kris Wu Yifan, have renounced their Chinese citizenship.
According to Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organisation, the number of asylum seekers from China has increased at an alarming rate as a result of the more oppressive system of governance.
According to the report, many Chinese have fled to democratic countries, particularly the rival country of the United States.
In recent years, searches on the internet for topics such as 'immigration' and 'how to move to Canada' have become quite common in China.
A new trend has emerged: 'runxue,' or the study of how to permanently leave China.
"The city in which we live should make us feel safe. For whatever reason, if its citizens are constantly anxious and believe they can no longer rely on the city for their well-being and livelihood, it is betrayal," according to a post on the social media platform WeChat.
According to Kathy Huang, a consultant with the think tank Council on Foreign Relations, the middle class is looking for an alternative to their unsatisfactory life in China.
“The sudden spike in interest indicated by the search engines and the immigration consultancies tells us that a much bigger population, most likely those in the middle class, is starting to consider it after the lockdown,” she said.
Foreigners living in China are also fleeing the country as a result of tightened security and rising anti-Western sentiment. Shanghai saw a 20% drop from 2,08,000 in 2011 to around 1,63,000 in 2021, while Beijing saw a 40% drop to around 63,000 foreign residents in a decade.
The mass exodus of Chinese residents has alarmed the Jinping government, which has begun to take action to halt it.
An investment migration visa, which used to be the simplest way to leave China, has become more difficult to obtain.
Even those who have already settled are being forced to return to China, either through extradition or by threatening family members.
However, dissatisfied Chinese citizens are looking for ways to leave the country and live a more democratic life. "I've thought about leaving China several times and given up, but now I'm determined to leave," said Harry Hu, a Shanghai restaurant owner.