Chinese business community criticizes decision to end investor program

A group of Chinese community leaders and businessmen in Vancouver have strongly criticized the government’s move to end the federal investor immigrant program, saying they weren’t consulted about it, that the move tars the entire Chinese business community and that it is likely to scare off Chinese investors considering Canada.

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In the budget last week, the government announced an immediate end to the immigrant investor program – which allows those with a net worth of $1.6-million to loan the government $800,000 for five years and get paid back without interest in exchange for permanent residency – and cleared out a backlog of tens of thousands of applicants.

The government said many of the people who use the program have only “tenuous” ties to Canada, and even among some Chinese-Canadians there is an impression that some of the investor immigrants buy houses and cars here and bring their family over, but then return to China and Asia to do the majority of their business.

In a press conference inside a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, several Chinese investors and community leaders said the move was unfair to those who had been waiting years to come in – and was demeaning to the 130,000 people who have immigrated here using the program, many of whom, they said, run businesses and invest actively here.

Charlie Zhang, an investor immigrant who came over on the program, said he convinced many of his friends to apply for the program and invest in Canada. But the sudden move to kill this way of entering the country has injected uncertainty into many people’s plans, he says, and that is encouraging many of his friends to question his decision – and to take their money elsewhere.

“When we close our business, our factory, in China and come here we have already lost a lot,” he told a room of reporters in the Floata Seafood and Chinese restaurant. “This is bad for investment… Uncertainty is bad for investment.”

Other community leaders, including James Wang, a trustee for the Burnaby school board, said the government’s move to end the program by saying that investor immigrants pay less tax than other immigrants was divisive. “It destroys the harmony of the community,” he said.

James Liu, an investor immigrant who came to Canada through a provincial investor program in Quebec, said he runs two restaurants, employs roughly 40 people, and has a son here who is already engaged in business. He said that if there are immigrant investors who are not paying tax, then the government should crack down on them without ending the entire program, or at least consult with the community. Mr. Liu said he was at an event last night where Immigration Minister Chris Alexander – who is in town – spoke, but that he did not address the investor immigrant program and did not take questions from the audience.

“Anything can be changed,” Mr. Liu said. “But you should let the community know.”

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Chinese business community criticizes decision to end investor program
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