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Australia sees rush of Hong Kong millionaires amid unrest

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Australia sees rush of Hong Kong millionaires amid unrest

By Swati Pandey

 

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FILE PHOTO: Anti-extradition bill protesters march to demand democracy and political reforms, in Hong Kong, China August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

 

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia is seeing an increase in interest in its millionaires-only visa program from wealthy Hong Kong residents who are eyeing a safety net amid political turmoil in the Chinese-ruled territory, migration lawyers told Reuters.

 

The New South Wales state migration department “has noticed a significant increase in applications” from Hong Kong in recent months, it said in a letter to agents this week, and seen by Reuters.

 

The interest has coincided with the “beginning of the current unrest in Hong Kong”, the department said, referring to a A$5 million ($3.4 million) Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program that provides direct residency to applicants.

 

Bill Fuggle, Sydney-based partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said there had been a rise in applicants for the A$5 million SIV program.

 

“What I am hearing from my clients is there definitely has been an uptick in the number of SIV applications from Hong Kong,” Fuggle said.

 

“Anybody who can make an alternate plan is trying to do so.”

 

Protests in the former British colony erupted in early June over a now-suspended bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

 

The unrest has been fueled by broader worries about what many say has been an erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

 

Australia’s New South Wales treasury department confirmed that the immigration team’s letter was sent out to migration agents on Monday but declined to provide any further details, saying only that the increase was off a small base.

 

In the letter, the department assured agents it was committed to providing “appropriate support” to help them discuss migration options with their clients.

 

The SIV program used to be hugely popular with people from China, though recent strict investment requirements have somewhat dented its appeal.

 

The SIV now requires at least 40 percent of the A$5 million to be invested in small-cap and venture capital (VC) funds while direct real estate investment is barred.

 

“Money is also moving out but Australia is probably not your first choice to park wealth...it’s a high tax jurisdiction. I suspect we’ll get more people than money here,” Baker & McKenzie’s Fuggle said.

 

Data on applications received or visas granted in recent months was not available as Australia publishes these figures only annually.

 

According to the latest data, China accounted for 87% of the 2,022 SIV visas granted between November 2012 and June 2018 while Hong Kong stood a distant second at just 3.2%.

 

Juwai.com, China’s largest international property website, had seen “some increase” in demand for Sydney property by Hong Kong buyers since the unrest began, Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel told Reuters in an email.

 

“Purchasing real estate is not the first step in coming to this country. More important is to obtain legal residency,” Chmiel said.

 

“Over the next two to five years, there could be a substantial impact on the property market as these individuals look to settle down and purchase, but for now, it is too early for that.”

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-22

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 i was involed with a company that built a 40 story block of units at paradise waters in 1987, apparently there is  still many floors or units , unlived in, bought by people from hong kong to flee to aus if china takes over, i think many had made plans for the future to get out when it  happens ! and it will !

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Sadly , there is actually a market after all  for these shoddy and sometimes ridiculous builds going on here in Thailand .

Developments that do not deserve one iota of interest  , coupled with a bought 'Elite Visa' , will suddenly become a desireable package for those who have been 'photographed' , as China tightens its screws.

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18 minutes ago, ICELANDMAN said:

No one asking to come to Thailand ? 😂

au contraire.

 

Most of the new build apartments you see of late have been financed by Japanese cash with a ready market of Chinese purchasers.

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They will come to Australia because their money is safer and the legal system is similar to  the old British Hong Kong system.

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Do the Chinese government know why the Chinese don't want to live in China... who would choose to live there if they had the opportunity to live in another country?.. pretty much no-one, not even the Chinese 

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8 hours ago, pegman said:

 If Australia is for sale maybe Trump would be interested seeing that he was rejected by Greenland. 

That was my thought, or New Zealand, or the U.S. could go back into the Philippines ... no, wait what is closer, ripe for a Trump Tower and a return to its gambling (think casinos!) past under Batista???

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A house in Hongcouver, Canada, now averages around $1 million, up from $135,000 during the first Hong Kong panic 20 years ago. You can imagine the rents now being demanded of the current generation of Vancouver's young adults who don't have a handy $200,000 lying about for a down payment, and even if they did, could never afford the monthly mortgage and taxes. Be careful what you wish for, Australia.

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8 hours ago, wwest5829 said:

That was my thought, or New Zealand, or the U.S. could go back into the Philippines ... no, wait what is closer, ripe for a Trump Tower and a return to its gambling (think casinos!) past under Batista???

 Please don't give Trump any ideas. 

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10 hours ago, ICELANDMAN said:

No one asking to come to Thailand ? 😂

My people in Hong Kong tell me they can't be arsed with the tm30

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1 hour ago, Mac98 said:

A house in Hongcouver, Canada, now averages around $1 million, up from $135,000 during the first Hong Kong panic 20 years ago. You can imagine the rents now being demanded of the current generation of Vancouver's young adults who don't have a handy $200,000 lying about for a down payment, and even if they did, could never afford the monthly mortgage and taxes. Be careful what you wish for, Australia.

It's already started. The median house price in Sydney is also areund 1 million AU and has been so for a few years. The majority of young Australian have no hope of even owning a house in a major city there. Many just continue to live with their parents or travel many hours per day to get to work. 

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