He Huifeng (SCMP): China’s middle-class dream of a second home in Malaysia dashed by coronavirus and geopolitical tensions…


He Huifeng in Guangdong

Published: 12:00pm, 20 Sep, 2020

Patricia Li is dismayed and saddened by the exodus of Chinese people she is witnessing in Johor, the southernmost state in Malaysia.

When she moved to the tropical Southeast Asian country from Yunnan province in 2017, the outlook was bright. Thousands of middle-class Chinese investors were flocking to Malaysia to buy property and secure a second home beyond China’s borders.

A number of Chinese developers have also invested heavily in Johor, promoting its proximity to Singapore and developing real-estate projects tailored for affluent Chinese people eager to make overseas investments or embrace a new lifestyle abroad. Since 2011, Guangdong-based developer Country Garden says it has invested close to RM20 billion (US$4.83 billion) in Malaysia, creating more than 1,500 jobs.

Between 2002 and 2018, the MM2H programme resulted in the approval of 43,943 visa applications from 131 countries and territories – and about 30 per cent involved mainland Chinese residents. But that door is closed now. When and if it will reopen is anyone’s guess.

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