KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Almost 8,000 Chinese nationals have emigrated to Malaysia since 2002, dubbed the “third wave” of Chinese migration, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
A combination of sunny weather, friendly people and cultural similarities has helped boost Malaysia's appeal to Chinese seeking to escape the volatile climate and worsening pollution at home, as they sign up under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
SCMP reported that the “third wave” of Chinese migration to Malaysia, after a 15th century influx and the tin mining boom in the 19th century, included foreign workers besides MM2H participants.
China's strengthening trade ties with Malaysia is also driving more of its wealthy businessmen to settle down here. Last year alone, Putrajaya announced over RM50 billion worth of Chinese investment .
While the MM2H programme had also attracted applicants from other countries, the Chinese have reportedly shown the most interest.
SCMP reported that official statistics show 7,967 of them had succeeded in making Malaysia their second home from 2002 to 2016, about a quarter of a total of 31,732 successful applicants from around the world.
“In 2016, more than 1,000 Chinese signed up for the scheme, fleeing the freezing cold winters and dangerous pollution levels of their homeland — 43.9 per cent of applicants were Chinese, with Japanese a distant second at 9.2 per cent,” the report said.
One of the scheme's strongest appeal is the largely unrestricted freedom for successful applicants to travel into and out of Malaysia, next to the various incentives and tax exemptions.
But the scheme has strict financial requirements: Applicants must at least own assets of RM350,000 to RM500,000, fixed deposits and a minimum price cap on purchasing property so as to curb speculation.
SCMP noted that despite reports of souring race relations between ethnic Malays and Chinese in the country, Chinese applicants of the MM2H programme are unperturbed.
“MM2H brushed aside such concerns, with many reporting friendliness from the Malaysians they meet,” the Hong-Kong based paper said.
“Since many divide time between China, where they deal with business obligations, and Malaysia, any concerns about racial tensions are lessened as they have someplace else to go.”