Chinese millionaires plan to leave in droves: Poll

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Nearly half of Chinese millionaires plan to move out of the country in the next five years-a flight that could add to worries over the country's economy, as more money moves offshore rather than being invested or spent in China.

According to a study from Barclays and Ledbury Research, which polled more than 2,000 people worth $1.5 million or more from 17 countries, 47 percent of Chinese millionaires plan to emigrate, while another 20 percent said they don't know if they will move.

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That's the highest rate of planned millionaire flight in the world, topping Qatar at 36 percent and Latin America at 34 percent.

The study supports a finding from Hurun Report earlier this year, which said 64 percent of Chinese millionaires have either emigrated or plan to emigrate.

When asked why they are leaving China, 78 percent of respondents in the Barclays and Ledbury study said they were seeking "better educational/employment opportunities" for their kids. Seventy-three percent said they were looking for "economic security" and 72 percent said they wanted a "desirable climate." Their top destinations are Hong Kong, Canada and the U.S.

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Countries are now competing fiercely to attract today's roving rich. While London, New York and Singapore have become global "hot spots," countries in Europe and the Caribbean have also opened up special visa programs for rich investors.

"There has been an explosion in second passports as a way for these high net worth individuals to achieve global mobility," Nicolas Rollason, head of business immigration at London-based law firm Kingsley Napley, said in the report. "If you look at the Russian and Chinese high net worth communities, having second passports and a residence that gives you access to a number of countries visa-free, it is very much seen as a badge of honor."

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The Chinese rich aren't the only ones leaving. The study found that nearly half of today's global millionaires have lived in more than one country-and many more are planning to migrate in the next five years.

Most millionaire Americans who plan to migrate are going to Europe, the study found. The largest number of millionaires planning to leave Asia are bound for North America, while millionaire migrants from the Middle East are basically split between Europe and North America.

-By CNBC's Robert Frank

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