Over the past decade the Asian region, and more specifically China, has seen rapid growth in private wealth and in the number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), causing an increasing interest in second citizenship.

As reported in the 2017 China Private Wealth Report by Bain Consulting and China Merchants Bank, Private wealth has increased exponentially, from 26 trillion RMB in 2006 to 165 trillion RMB in 2016. This has subsequently led to an almost 9-fold increase in the number of HNWI with investible assets of least 10 million yuan ($1.47 million), which rose from 180,000 in 2006, to 1.6 million in 2016.

Although the Hurun report 2017 cites slightly more conservative figures, reporting 1.35 million HNWI in 2016, the report also discusses the rapid increase in private wealth due to a variety of reasons including the opening up of the Chinese economy, the willingness to invest in multiple avenues and an increase in the use of different financial service professionals to help with wealth management.

Although the number of HNWI has increased, recent instabilities in China have created an unfavourable environment for them to live, work, grow and preserve their wealth in. These include, but are not limited to, lack of freedoms (civil liberties and freedom of the press), environmental pollution (both air and water), stalling economic growth, capital control measures, high levels of state control and a number of restrictions in foreign direct investment (FDI).

china wealth

Looking at second citizenship 

These factors have led many Chinese HNWI to look at other alternatives in order to better secure their future in the form of emigration, most notably through the possibility of acquiring either residency or a second citizenship through various residency and citizenship by investment programmes found globally.

A second nationality can have a number of benefits for a HNWI including gaining a better passport, increased visa free travel, access to new markets, safety and security and better opportunities for the whole family in terms of health and education, amongst others.

The Hurun Report 2017, ranked the most popular emigration destinations for Chinese HNWI, taking into consideration a number of factors; including education, ease of investment, immigration policy, property investment rules, taxation, medical care, visas and ease of adaption for Chinese immigrants. Although the United States, Canada and United Kingdom where the three most popular countries mostly due to their good reputations with Chinese HNWI, countries with second citizenship programmes like Malta,  Dominica and Antigua, and countries with golden visa programmes like Portugal and Spain can also be found of the list, further increasing the popularity of the economic investment route in acquiring a second citizenship.