Wealthy Chinese are moving to Hong Kong by way of Gambia

Let me in?
Let me in?
Image: Reuters / Stringer
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Hong Kong is an alluring place to live for many in mainland China, with its better investment opportunities, schools, and broader personal freedoms.

But becoming a Hong Kong resident isn’t easy for mainland Chinese because of emigration restrictions Beijing puts on mainland citizens. Hong Kong is also hesitant to see a deluge of mainlanders moving in. For wealthy Chinese, the latest scheme to skirt these restrictions involves pitching a tent in Gambia, at least figuratively. (As we’ve written before, Chinese multimillionaires are desperate for passports and residence permits across the globe.)

According to the South China Morning Post, visa agencies in Yunnan and Guangdong provinces in the south of China are advertising deals (paywall) to gain residency in Gambia as a backdoor to a residence permit in Hong Kong. For some agencies, all that’s needed are six head shots and about HK $100,000 (about $12,900); no visit to the country necessary. Chinese citizens who become residents of Gambia can then apply to a Hong Kong capital investment initiative that grants permanent residence in Hong Kong for those who invest HK$ 10 million ($1.3 million) or more. Only Chinese citizens who already have permanent residency in another foreign country can apply, which helps limit the volume of applicants.

In recent years, the scheme has attracted so many Chinese citizens that Gambian residents (many who are Chinese) are now the biggest applicant pool within Hong Kong’s capital investment residency initiative. According to immigration figures cited in the South China Morning Post, since Hong Kong first started the program in 2003, 9,050 people have gained residency in Hong Kong by citing Gambia as their permanent home.