Rich Chinese Worth $48 Billion Want to Leave — But Will Xi Let Them?

Like thousands of wealthy people across China, Shanghai restaurateur Harry Hu is planning to do something he once considered unthinkable: move himself and his money out of the country.

Scarred by Shanghai’s chaotic lockdown under the Covid-Zero policy that has made China a global outlier, Hu is joining what investment migration consultancy Henley & Partners estimates is a cohort of 10,000 high-net-worth residents seeking to pull $48 billion from China this year — the second-largest predicted wealth and people outflow for a country after Russia.

The big question now hanging over China’s rich is whether President Xi Jinping’s government will let them leave.

While policy makers haven’t explicitly tightened curbs on relocating, immigration lawyers say moving has become more difficult in recent months as passport processing times have increased and documentation requirements have become more onerous. Shifting large sums of money out of China has also become harder after a pullback by overseas counterparties who had long helped residents sidestep the country’s capital controls via private swap arrangements.

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