The Talented, Wealthy, Ambitious, and Hardworking Vote with Their Feet Against Communist China

(p. B12) Is China reopening to the world or turning inward again?

Many would argue the latter, but in one important way, the country is still going global: Residents appear to be leaving at a faster clip than they have in years, including a significant number of the wealthy and well-educated the nation needs to keep modernizing and investing.

. . .

Rebounding emigration is also striking in the context of a declining overall birthrate, and suggests that Beijing must do far more to convince talent, both domestic and foreign, that China is a good place to put down roots if it wants to avoid a steeper growth slowdown in the years ahead.

. . .

Rising net emigration also mirrors much smaller influxes of foreign talent in recent years—another trend that threatens to slow China’s climb up the technological ladder. Foreign residents of Shanghai and Beijing numbered just 163,954 and 62,812 in 2020, according to official data, down 21% and 42%, respectively, since 2010. The pandemic is clearly a major factor. But given the well-publicized rising tensions between China and the West, slowing growth and the rising risks of detention and investigation for what used to be considered routine business by foreigners in China, a portion of that decrease seems very likely to persist.

For much of the new millennium, China has been a place where the ambitious, hardworking and lucky could often get ahead. But in today’s China—more focused on security and control, less on growth—it is no longer clear how true that really is.

Some people, at least, seem to be voting with their feet.

For the full commentary, see:

Nathaniel Taplin. “HEARD ON THE STREET; China’s Brain Drain Threatens Its Future.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, July 6, 2023): B12.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 5, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

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