IRRESISTIBLE ‘GOLDEN VISAS’
Over 100,000 Chinese have poured US$24b into programmes across the world
WHEN the sister of United States President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner promoted investment in her family’s new skyscraper from a hotel ballroom stage here earlier this month, she was pitching a controversial American visa programme that has proven irresistible to tens of thousands of Chinese.
More than 100,000 Chinese have poured at least US$24 billion (RM104 billion) in the last decade into “golden visa” programmes across the world that offer residence in exchange for investment, an analysis has found.
Nowhere is Chinese demand greater than in the US, which has taken in at least US$7.7 billion and issued more than 40,000 visas to Chinese investors and their families in the past decade.
The flood of investors reflects how China’s rise has catapulted tens of millions of families into the middle class.
But at the same time, it shows how these families are increasingly becoming restless as cities remain choked by smog, home prices multiply and schools impose ever-greater pressure on children. They also feel insecure about being able to protect their property and savings.
Their money goes towards government bonds, businesses, mountain ski resorts, new schools and real estate projects, including a Trump-branded tower in New Jersey built by the Kushner Companies, once run by Kushner, now a White House senior adviser.
But the industry is murky, loosely regulated and sometimes fraud-ridden — in the US, federal regulators have linked the EB-5 visa programme to fraud cases involving more than US$1 billion in investment in the last four years. The EB-5 programme and many others like it market heavily in China.
China’s “golden visa” investors are part of a wave characterised not by poverty, persecution or war, but by people with steady jobs who are pursuing happiness that’s eluded them in their homeland.
The AP obtained data from officials in 13 countries on how many Chinese have used their investor programmes since 2007.
The market leader is the US EB5 programme, which gives green cards to anyone who invests US$500,000 in a business that creates or saves at least 10 jobs.
The EB-5 has been heavily criticised by government watchdogs and targeted by lawmakers in the Congress, who say it promotes fraud and helps developers building mega projects more than struggling communities.
Nicole Meyer, Kushner’s sister, had appeared this month at events here and in Shanghai to promote One Journal Square, a New Jersey tower project planned by the Kushner family that would be partially funded through EB-5 investment. AP
An event promoting EB-5 investment in a Kushner Companies development in Shanghai recently. The EB-5 programme has been heavily criticised by government watchdogs and targeted by lawmakers in the US Congress, who say it promotes fraud.