Do 97% of Chinese Want to Live in the United States?

Everyone in China wants to live in the United States

The Globalist is out with an article, entitled, The American Dream Is Alive and Well In China, stating that “we heard that if U.S. immigration policies allowed it, 97% of the Chinese people would probably want to move to the United States.”

I talked a bit about this previously in a post entitled, Representing Chinese Companies: We See Some Light:”

Many of the Chinese companies that seek to hire us for one thing (let’s say, forming a US company) really have another goal in mind (let’s say getting visas for their families and getting their kids into U.S. schools). They do not tell us of their real goals until we are way into the project.

Our law firm’s own experiences with Chinese clients does reveal that many Chinese companies retain my law firm to get their companies set up in the United States (mostly) but also in Latin America and the EU, because their owners desperately want their kids to get an education somewhere other than in China.

At least half the time, our meetings with Chinese companies looking to come to the United States devolve into a conversation as to whether it is really true that their five year old kid (yes, the kid is usually five years old!) will immediately be able to get into a top neighborhood school for free. I swear that our saying “yes” to that question triples the chances of some sort of cross border transaction going through. Were it not for so many Chinese wanting a better life for their kids, my law firm’s foreign direct investment work would be considerably less.

The United States and Canada are the number one and two most desired countries for people from Asia, according to this recent Gallup survey. The reason the United States scores so well is “opportunity,” including for children, which translates into education.

UPDATE: In Special delivery: mainland mothers heading to US to give birth, Shanghaiist writes how wealthy Chinese mothers-to-be are hopping on airplanes to the United States so their kids can attain United States citizenship by being born there.

But still, 97%. Can that really be? What do you think? 97%, real or made-up out of whole cloth? Me, I think it’s a bit high, but not by much.

27 responses to “Do 97% of Chinese Want to Live in the United States?”

  1. Lame. No sources, and “we heard”, and then the “probably”? Come on. Perhaps this will generate page views, fiery comments, but this is some weak sauce. Aren’t there better conversation gambits than this one?

  2. “want”, maybe yes
    I bet 97% of Chinese hate their “high pain, low gain” education system:)
    and their American dream is dreamt more on this part.

  3. 97% of Chinese people want to live in the U.S.? No way. Certainly the number was much higher 10-15 years ago but not now. After living here in China for 11 yeears, none of my Chinese friends have an interest in moving to the U.S. I think people here are mostly happy primarily because of the economy. 97%? Nope, Even reversing the numbers..3% want to live in the U.S. I think is high.

  4. I wonder where the positive perception of our schools is coming from… Also, I wonder if they would want to move to the US if they knew the other 97% were coming along too.

  5. That conclusion is absolutely ridiculous! I believe more than 50% Chinese which are from rural areas they do not think US is better place for them to live.
    Most people living in urban areas with good education background would like to travel to US, but to live there is another questions.
    Only those who have acquired super wealth want to fly to US, as they may doubt the system in China can not protect their wealth (those wealth may be not illegal).
    As far as the children education is concerned, Chinese parents always have the best for their children.To most people’s understanding, to invest in the foreign country is the easies way to get an entry to a school.

  6. Is it either China or America? I’m sure that some Chinese would consider America the best country in the world because it is the only superpower and the largest economy, but if the range of options was wider to include Scandinavia, Switzerland, Australia and Canada, maybe other western countries, America wouldn’t be the best fit, they may or may not know about the advantages of other countries though, as the circulation of information is still fairly restricted in China.
    Consider a headache for many Chinese people: health care, it is a huge expenditure, lots of Chinese people cannot afford necessary treatment, and there have been cases where patients have been refused life-saving treatment because they couldn’t pay upfront. Doctors prescribe unnecessary medications to earn commission from the pharmaceuticals. But America is not the ideal example, either. Americans spend more than residents of any other western country on health care per capita, and it seems being citizens of the welfare states of Scandinavia and Australia would much alleviate the burden compared to if they were to move to America.
    However, for those who cannot afford to buy properties in the big cities of China, some places in America do offer cheap properties.
    And for a prosperous economy, I don’t see how America can be attractive with nearly 1/10 of unemployment rate. Australia fairs much better, we are the only western developed nation that did not go through a recession in the GFC.
    In terms of corruption control, again, Scandinavian countries fair better, the American congress is more or less influenced by the big corporate donors who fund the capaigns of the politicians.
    Or how about a huge problem in China, that of inequality, America is not the place of escape from this problem. Scandinavian countries are better, and Japan is a fairly equal society.
    And as for education, tertiary education is very expensive in America, and if you want to become a professional like a doctor or a lawyer, you have to first spend 4 years in undergraduate college with the costs associated with it, then another 3 years for example in law school, and when you come out, you’ve spent 7 years in university and usually a debt so huge. Whereas in some European countries, university is free. And in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, we go straight to do a law degree or a medical degree.
    I’m sure if the people who wanted to move to America were given sufficient information about other countries, and a wider choice, there would be more diversity of answers.

  7. I think there is some ‘truth’ to that 97%, because the Chinese people view U.S. society fairly positively:
    1. Great environment (clean, bigger homes, etc.)
    2. High paying jobs
    3. Easier schools with better facilities
    4. Top colleges/universities
    5. English-language immersion
    6. Cutting-edge in terms of high-tech and management
    20 years ago, I’d say that number might have been in the same ballpark. Now, that number probably indicates people wanting 1 through 6 so they can eventually return to China and make it big there.
    For the migrant worker types, at $8.00/hour, they could easily imagine tucking away $4.00/hour. After a few years, that’d be a fortune in China. They will return to buy a home with left-over money to open a restaurant.
    The folks who wait all day standing next to Home Depot stores across America – they are the most honest and hard working. They are grateful for work. Whatever mojo they have, many of America’s unemployed can probably use some.
    The Chinese workers have that mojo too.

  8. My ongoing Beijing taxi driver poll says less than 5% would want to live in the US. Top reasons cited: lack of public security (perceived high crime rates), problems with US economy, friends & family too far away, cost of living too high, no good food.

  9. The biggest reason why is because most Chinese want a good life simply handed to them but aren’t willing to work for it.

  10. I think the reason a lot of Chinese whould want to move to the States is that if you make it big there, then you don’t have to watch you back. I China ,if you make it big, then you have willing or unwilling broken a bunch of laws doing so, and if you piss off the wrong people or end up on the wrong side of a political fight, then your personal security is on the line.

  11. No way that 97% figure is accurate (and there is no indication of where it came from), but I think the overall point is sound: many Chinese still look to the United States as the land of milk and honey.

  12. Look at the skyrocketing number of EB-5 applicants and regional center applications this year and you will know that plenty of wealthy Chinese are looking to immigrate to the U.S. 97% of the general population is ridiculous though…no need to comment further.

  13. 97%, no way. According to Wikipedia only 0.77% of Chinese speak English. I would bet that 99.99% of Dan’s Chinese clients speak English, so they obviously represent an extremely small sample of the Chinese population.
    At most 10% and probably more like 2-3% of Chinese as a whole want to move to the US or Canda.

  14. I think the article, according to the link, is suppose to be semi-satirical so it’s not meant to be taken 100% serious or literally. 97% statistic is made up.

  15. Keep the Chinese in China. There are way too many of them here already. Most seem very rude and have no manners.

  16. No way are these numbers accurate and we all know that. The better question though is if China is doing so well and so many of its citizens want to leave, just imagine what will happen if/when its economy goes South. What will happen?

  17. No way this is true and I fear the Chinese will use this as yet another example of the West being unwilling to accept China’s rise.

  18. Count me as someone who also does not buy this number. There is just no way that many Chinese would be willing to forsake their families.

  19. People should talk to Chinese people rather than forming their opinion from internet articles. This is hardly true.
    There are poor people in every country just as there are well off people. The people who have decent paying jobs enjoy life with much less stress than those who are well off in this country. People do not want to leave that country as much as people may think.

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