AS WEALTHY CHINESE increasingly look to invest overseas, foreign businesses also have stepped up their efforts to woo potential Chinese investors. Nowhere is this courtship more visible than with foreign real-estate developers.
On a recent Saturday, some 140 developers from more than 20 countries showcased their properties to Chinese buyers in an expo held in Beijing. To catch the eyes of the prospective buyers, the developers handed out fancy brochures, decorated their exhibit booths with bold-colour pictures of featured properties, and in some cases, even had young saleswomen wearing bunny ears.
But what attracted many of the Chinese visitors the most was the lure of foreign residency, which made the 30 exhibitors from Cyprus the most prominent group at the entire expo.
Why Cyprus? While mild weather, rich history and a nice location in the Eastern Mediterranean might make the tiny island nation an attractive place to live, the main appeal is the incredibly low bar it sets for immigration: Anyone who spends €300,000 on a piece of property on the island automatically becomes eligible for permanent European Union residency.
“Cyprus has relatively low immigration hurdles than others like the U.S. and Canada,” said Shao Gang, while flipping through a brochure handed out by a Cyprus developer. “That is attractive to us,” said Mr. Shao, who said he works at a local trade group.
Other developers who drew large crowds at the expo included those from Singapore and Australia, both of which also offer attractive investment immigration programs.
Tony Du, general manager at Affluent Investment Group, was at the expo helping an Australia developer consulting with potential Chinese buyers on immigration-related questions. “Of the 100 people I talked to, 60% of them wanted to emigrate, and 40% only wanted to buy properties overseas,” Mr. Du said.
(We understand that the Chinese authorities issued circulars warning potential buyers to be vigilant and to seek expert advice before making purchases.)