June 10, 2011
By Xin Haiguang
BEIJING - Is China facing a "Wealth Drain"? Do too many of the best and brightest -- and above all, richest -- Chinese dream of packing up their accumulated capital, and going to live abroad?
According to a new study, a majority of Chinese who have more than 10 million Yuan ($1.53 million) worth of individual assets find the idea of real-estate investment a lot less tempting than so-called "investment emigration." Nearly 60% of people interviewed claim they are either considering emigration through investment overseas, or have already completed the process, according to the 2011 Private Wealth Report on China published by China Merchants Bank and a business consulting firm Bain & Company. The richer you are, the study suggests, the likelier it is that you resort to emigration. And among those who possess more than 100 million yuan, 27 % have already emigrated while 47% are considering leaving.
The fact that more and more rich Chinese are seeking to emigrate is turning into a hot topic in China, and statistics prove that the trend is a real one. According to Caixin online, a Chinese website specialized in finance, the compound annual growth rate of overseas investment by Chinese individuals approached 100% between 2008 and 2010. The compound growth rate of the Chinese who used investments to emigrate to the United States in the past five years is 73%.
So why are wealthy Chinese so eager to leave their country? The simplest answer is that there are a lot of things in China that even the richest cannot buy (emigration is obviously not one of them). China's rich are fond of saying that nothing "is a problem if money can solve it." Among the irresolvable problems that spark emigration, there are material ones, and emotional ones.
The former includes issues like laws and regulations, the education system, social welfare, inheritance tax, quality of air, investing atmosphere, food safety, ability to travel, and so on. In short, these are the material factors that any State must provide to its people in order to ensure their happiness. In emerging countries such as China, these factors are still often found wanting.
Emotional reasons behind rich people's immigration are generally linked to the lack of a sense of personal safety, including safety of personal wealth, as well as fear about an uncertain future.
It thus appears that it is a certain "lack of well-being" that is pushing wealthy Chinese to emigrate. The results of the Private Wealth Report are very much in line with other studies. A recent Gallop Wellbeing Survey showed that most Chinese people feel depressed, even as China has sky-high economic growth rates that Europe and America can only dream of. According to the survey, which asked respondents to choose between "thriving," "struggling," and "suffering" to describe their situation, only 12% think themselves as "thriving," while 17% describe themselves as "suffering," and 71% "struggling." The number of Chinese who feel that their life is improving is comparable to the number of Afghans and Yemeni who feel the same way, while the number of persons feeling they are "struggling" is approximately the same as in Haiti, Azerbaijan and Nepal.
It is a paradox that, in a country where more and more people are getting richer by the day – albeit to the detriment of the poor, who have benefitted very little from the country's new wealth – the general feeling of well-being should remain at rock-bottom. The poor grumble while the rich flee.
The truth is that, unless they emigrate, the wealthy have to suffer from the same causes of unhappiness as the poor. Take food safety. Last year, when a Chinese woman living in Canada was asked by the International Herald Tribune why she had left her country, she said it was because of the Sanlu (toxic baby milk) case, and also because of the "hatred against the rich." Her answer highlights the fact that, as the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider, and the poor are complaining more and more, the rich are also getting more nervous. Some rich people even worry that the "redistribution of wealth might start all over again."
Although the danger seems overblown for now, people are starting to wonder where the public hatred of the rich might lead. The wealthy also know that they bear some of the responsibility for the unequal distribution of wealth. The so-called "original sin of wealth" is not totally without foundation, and it is often difficult for the rich to stop enriching themselves. Fluctuating market conditions bring out a survival instinct that sometimes makes them commit illegal or immoral acts. Once they realize this, they often chose to avoid the trap by emigrating and starting afresh.
The situation would not be as serious, of course, if the number of people deciding to leave were low. But once a few personal choices take the shape of a massive drain, the consequences of their departure on the economy and on society, through the example they set, can be dire.
An even bigger cause of concern is that, when rich people pack their money and leave, not only are they no longer identifying with their country, but they are also avoiding their social obligations. While the reason behind these people's decision matters little, the undeniable fact is that they make money from this society, but they refuse to give anything back.
Rich people who decide to move to a foreign country should know that, by doing so, they are stoking the dissatisfaction among those who stay behind. The poor get angrier because they cannot leave, and their hatred towards the remaining rich grows even bigger. This is the most corrosive thing that can happen to a society.
Read the original article in Chinese
photo - Sherrattsam
The Economic Observer is a weekly Chinese-language newspaper founded in April 2001. It is one of the top business publications in China. The main editorial office is based in Beijing, China. Inspired by the Financial Times of Britain, the newspaper is printed on peach-colored paper.
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
food / travel
With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.
Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson
October 26, 2021
When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.
And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.
Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan
The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan
According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.
In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.
The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.
Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.
View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA
Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!
The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.
Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.
Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain
Old Belchite, Spain
Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…
That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.
Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.
If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.
Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan
Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.
The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.
Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."
Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.
Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden
The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden
After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).
Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.
Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia
Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia
During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.
Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.
Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy
Poveglia Island, Italy
Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).
During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.
In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.
Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.
From Your Site Articles
- From Beirut To Baghdad, Syria's Spillover Is Redrawing The Middle ... ›
- Tamales To Gonorrhea: How Violence Shaped Colombian Spanish ... ›
- Destination Chernobyl? Radioactivity, Jobs And Tourism ... ›
Related Articles Around the Web
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!