A recent viral infographic compiled by Chinese news portal Sina shows that more than 150,000 Chinese citizens emigrated from China in 2011, or about 1/10 of the population of Philadelphia. Top destinations were New Zealand, which attracted 13 percent of emigrants, followed by Canada, Australia, and the United States. Investment immigration, skilled immigration, and study abroad enabled most to make the move, while some chose to make the move in less orthodox ways.
The rich and the highly educated account for the largest group in this emigration trend, according to the infographic. As revealed in a report by China Merchants Bank and Bain & Company, "Among those mainland business owners who possess over 100 million RMB (about $16 million), 27 percent have already emigrated, while another 47 percent are considering emigrating." In fact, wealthy Chinese considering emigration include not only those from China's biggest cities, but also residents of some second-tier cities such as Dalian and Chongqing.
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This is not the first time that China has witnessed a wave of emigration. Some Chinese moved elsewhere during the early years of Reform and Opening Up, a period of economic and political liberalization that began in 1978. Another decade-long wave of emigration began in the late 1980s; this group consisted mainly of students studying abroad, and destinations mainly included Taiwan, Hong Kong and Asian countries. While previous waves of Chinese emigration were driven by blue-collar workers such as cooks, tailors and barbers, and later waves by students, this new wave of emigration includes Chinese with more "upstream" occupations, such as engineers, accountants and lawyers, as well as the extremely wealthy.