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Chinese Middle Class Heads for US

September 2013, 18
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The number of Chinese residents in the US doubled between 2000 and 2010, with the rise being attributed to the increase in the middle classes.
According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, immigration from China to the US has shot to record highs, with the western super-power keen to attract highly skilled immigrants onto their soil.

Chinese Immigrant’s Rocket

In 2000, the US issued just 22,000 visas to Chinese nationals but by 2012 this number had rocketed to 189,000. With around 3.79 Chinese individuals now living in the US, the vast majority – estimated to be around 2.2 million – emigrated from China.
Some experts in Chinese demography have questioned the authenticity of the UN data as some of the visas issued would have been for short term stays or education purposes only.
Many US citizens believe that it’s wrong to separate families due to immigration policies
However, despite the controversy over the exact numbers, it is clear that the number of Chinese people in the US has indeed climbed sharply; Asians are now the fastest growing racial group, overtaking the Latino community.
This view was supported by Madeleine Sumption, a senior policy analyst and assistant director for research in the international programme at the Migration Policy Institute based in Washington. Ms Sumption agreed that 'there has been an astronomical increase in the number of students coming to the US' and suggested that the trend was set to continue.

Changing Economic Landscape

The number of visas issued is in itself a clear indication of the trend for a move from China to the US, with the latter keen to welcome skilled workers from around the world.
But experts have suggested that the primary driving factor for the surge in uptake is an increase in the middle classes in China, a demographic which is seeing more individuals take control of their own future.
Ms Sumption said that getting an education in the US was viewed as an 'insurance policy' by Chinese families and recent increases in wealth meant 'more and more parents were able to afford to take advantage'. She went on to add that additional investment by the Chinese government into its own education system had also created a greater number of opportunities for students to apply overseas.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Boston, MA
However, Ms Sumption warned that it wasn't always a one way street as better standards of living and a more affluent lifestyle in China meant that although more students are leaving to go to the US, more may also consider returning after graduation.

Other Contributing Factors

But it's not just the wealthier economy in China which is helping to drive up the numbers of immigrants heading abroad; at least part of the reason is due to US policies.
Immigration policy in the US has been deliberately lenient in a bid to attract highly skilled workers from China to work overseas, or to stay after graduating. The Senate is working on new immigration reform but despite proposed changes in some areas such as bringing extended family, they are still keen to ensure that workers with a high level of education from countries such as China will continue to be able to emigrate without any problem. Experts say the US is focussing on making sure their policies are 'competitive' to attract the brightest and most skilled workers from around the globe.

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