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Parents look to educate, invest overseas

2013-03-11 09:28 Global Times     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment
A young girl is accompanied by her mother at the 2013 China International Education Exhibition Tour in Chaoyang district Monday Photo: Li Hao/GT

A young girl is accompanied by her mother at the 2013 China International Education Exhibition Tour in Chaoyang district Monday Photo: Li Hao/GT

Chinese parents are starting to send their children abroad to study at much younger ages, and are increasingly investing in property overseas for the child to live in, sometimes as a way for the whole family to immigrate. 

Thousands of parents attended the 2013 China International Education Exhibition Tour in Chaoyang district at the weekend, in which 400 schools and education organizations from over 20 countries participated.

Many parents said they want their child to go abroad both to study English and learn about Western culture, and because they are worried about the standard of the Chinese education system. Some said they would like to send their child away for primary education.

One parent surnamed Tong, who came to the exhibition by himself, said he was looking for a college in the US for his 17-year-old son. 

"There's a lot of pressure on kids in China because of the exams to get into college, but only a few can go to a really good university, so I decided to send him abroad," said Tong.

"His mother might go along with him, since we're concerned about him staying there alone. We're considering buying a house there since the local housing price is less expensive than in Beijing," he said.

Tong noted that apart from the education level of the school, they will look at the local housing prices.

"For example, 2 million yuan ($321,807) might get you a detached house in the US, but only for a small apartment in central Beijing," said Tong.

A woman surnamed Chen, the mother of a 7-year-old boy, said she wants to send her son to an English-speaking country like Canada or New Zealand.

"I'd definitely go with him. I'm also expecting to get a visa for permanent residency at the same time," she said.

Chen said she also intends to buy a house, so her whole family could settle in the country she chooses to go to.

Christine Weeks, the director of Career Development at Westlake Girls High School in Auckland, New Zealand, said although the New Zealand government has a policy that allows parents to buy houses, she doubts if this is the right thing to do for children.

"If they stay with their parents instead of in local families, they tend to speak Chinese at home so they don't pick up the language quickly," she said.

But Michael Couch, the school representative of UK Boarding Schools, thinks that it can be a good way to support a child who is studying abroad. 

"The UK government has provided good conditions for house purchases," he said.

"For those that can afford it, this is an excellent opportunity to have the child educated while not losing the family connection," said Couch.

Gu Yunchang, secretary-general of the China Real Estate Association, said that he understands why parents want to buy property overseas.

"You get more value for money by buying a house overseas than renting in the West, but it's not the same situation in China," he said.

Gu said that transferring capital overseas to buy property when children study abroad is a good way for the wealthy to invest.

"Buying property in the West is a good investment as the economies and housing markets there are depressed, but the domestic environment for investment is going down," he said.

The Chinese government recently introduced new policies intended to dampen down the domestic real estate market, including a capital gains tax of 20 percent on the sale of second-hand homes. 

Gu also noted that people might even get a green card if they invest a large sum of money in a foreign country. 

More and more Chinese people are buying property overseas, both as a way to immigrate and as a way to turn over a quick profit, as house prices can rise quickly in the UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore, the South China Morning Post reported on January 29.

According to a survey by real estate website SouFun International in 2012, of the Chinese people who buy overseas, 43.95 percent wanted to do so for immigration, 24.6 percent for their child's education, and 23.39 for investment purposes. SouFun sampled 12 million users of its website.

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