Star rich corrupt officials pile up, a street of Chinese money and fame

In recent years, overseas migration has become the choice of many Chinese people, and some communities where rich Chinese people gather have gradually become hidden places where wealth and power change.

Vancouver, a Canadian city that has always kept a low profile in the Chinese world, has traditionally been a “safe haven” for many wealthy people to hide their wealth.

In 2014, Canada launched a reality web series “Ultra Rich Asian Girls” featuring four rich Chinese girls.

Because of the good ratings, it was launched again in 2015 for a second season. In this show, the four Chinese girls often drive luxury cars to and from casinos (the staff of North American casinos even greet them in Mandarin), fly around the world for shopping sprees, and make the declaration that “beef is not Kobe, red wine is not Latour.

One of the girls, Zhuo Wei, also mentioned in an interview with The New Yorker that she once spent half a platinum bag on a night of partying; if it was a birthday, it would only be more expensive, and she could drink 2 Fendi bags in less than an hour.

However, after the show, some netizens also revealed that the bracelet worn by one of the main characters was only worth $300 Canadian; and the “famous” business consultant Huang Shihui, who was admired by several of the leading ladies in the show, was a fraudster, involved in an amount of up to 25 million yuan.

But that doesn’t cover up the fact that the rich kids in the two neighborhoods of Vancouver are showing off their wealth.

A neighborhood of less than 1,000 meters has become a place of fame and fortune for the rich and famous Chinese

In the western part of Metro Vancouver, there are two locations which can be said to be the two most expensive luxury residential areas in the whole Canada: Vancouver West and West Vancouver.

Point Grey Road, which is close to downtown Vancouver, is home to some of the most expensive homes and condominiums in the $20-30 million range, with roughly ten of the most expensive homes and condominiums ever purchased by wealthy businessmen.

Looking north from this area, there is another rather low-profile peninsula, in the daytime, the far-seeing may be a forest-covered ordinary residential area, but this community has been shortlisted as one of the top ten wealthy areas in Canada, with the backdrop of the mountains and the sea, creating a number of ocean-view houses hidden under the trees.

To the uninitiated, it may seem like a middle-class “vegetarian and yoga practitioner’s” paradise, but in fact it is mostly home to the gentry. Each home can easily sell for more than 10 million Canadian dollars, and even the roads around the front of some homes have been bought by their owners. In addition to celebrities and businessmen, there are also some “mysterious” people who own homes here, and most of them have regular “high end” social circles that are firmly set apart from outsiders. These communities also have their own security systems, which prevent strangers from approaching and entering.

A few years ago, the New York Times featured Andy Guo, then an 18-year-old male, in an article about the rich Chinese generation in Vancouver. In the story, Andy said he disliked sharing his car with his twin brother and often drove a red Lamborghini in and out of school alone.

The report soon caused controversy in the area, as many pedestrians saw the inscription “CTGRY5” on his license plate, a reference to the worst hurricane, which made many wonder what the car’s owner’s intentions were.

Andy, who studies economics at the University of British Columbia near Vancouver, said the car was a gift from his father, who is a coal owner in Shanxi, China, worth $360,000 last year. ” Andy also said that a local police officer once pulled him aside and asked for “a tour of the luxury car”.

Real estate investments by wealthy Chinese in these neighborhoods have also driven up home prices here. An academic study of home buying behavior here found that two-thirds of Vancouver home purchases over $1.25 million were made by buyers with non-English Chinese names. For homes priced over $5 million, purchasers with Chinese names accounted for 88 percent of the purchases.

Many of these people have since decided to put down roots in Vancouver. At first, many immigrants want to use the city as a “temporary stopover” or “property preservation”, but usually after a year and a half, these wealthy people from China are attracted by the quality of the environment and decide to retire here.

This trend can be seen in the sales of local cemeteries.

Cemeteries can also have a “city view”

As a popular city for immigrants, locals have been marching in the streets a few years ago to protest the crazy price of housing, they did not expect that a cemetery called Mountain View Cemetery here (Mountain View Cemetery) has increased 200 times in the past 30 years, with the price of a piece of land that can accommodate a coffin size reaching about 120,000 yuan. Graves are not the only thing that have gone up in price, everything in the cemetery has been “appreciating”, even the urns have gone up to nearly 20,000 RMB a piece.

Celebrity hideaways, but also corrupt officials’ hideaways

The Chinese community in West Vancouver and Winnipeg has become a notorious place of fame and fortune overseas. There is a saying that has been circulating within Canada, “Rich people go to Vancouver, ordinary people choose Toronto.”

In a Global Living 2020 report released by CBRE, an international commercial real estate services and investment firm, Vancouver was the highest priced city in North America at $1.01 million per home, with Los Angeles and New York both left behind. Especially in the aftermath of the epidemic, housing prices in areas like West Vancouver are on the move again, trending up against the trend.

Some corporate executives, celebrities, tycoons and even corrupt officials are happy to buy property here, and some of them settle their wives and children here, becoming “migratory birds” who take convenient flights to and from China and Canada every year. It’s not uncommon to see nannies sleeping in their seats in business class while their children watch cartoons in silence on a 10-hour flight to Vancouver.

It all started in the 1980s when Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, bought the land at Vancouver’s Expo Park for $320 million in 1988, making it the largest real estate deal in Vancouver’s history. A towering building was erected shortly afterwards, starting the trend of Chinese people moving to Canada.

In the early 1990s, a large number of Hong Kong people, including many celebrities, came to Vancouver. Cecilia Cheung, Karen Chung, and Chris Chan, to name a few, chose to settle in the Greater Vancouver area, and have been running around Vancouver and Hong Kong for a long time.

Although Cecilia Cheung did not buy a property in West Vancouver or Vancouver West, she bought a detached house (i.e. “single house”) in Vancouver Surrey, with an ancient fortress-style facade with a staggered garden, beautiful as if from a fairy tale, she made her goal clear at an early stage, and every step she took after returning to singleness, she walked steadily. .

“I have two investments, one to make money from my appearance and one to invest in real estate.”

Chung and her husband’s 370-square-meter house in Vancouver’s luxury residential area, with a market value of more than 17 million yuan, has a secluded environment, beautiful scenery and extremely luxurious interiors.

The 54-year-old goddess of the generation, Joey Wong, also purchased a detached house with a wide lawn in Canada, which was valued at more than 15 million Canadian dollars in 2017.

The company is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Technology (NIT).

The Hong Kong superstar, Leslie Cheung, also bought a villa in West Vancouver, the market value of which was more than $1 million in 1992.

In Stanley Park, which is just across the water from Leslie Cheung’s villa, there is also a bench named after him, with a direct view of the beautiful summer ocean.

When it comes to property investment, one of the most inescapable people is Fan Bingbing. She has invested the money she earned from her acting career into the Canadian real estate market and has made a fortune.

A 100-year-old house in Richmond, near Vancouver, was signed by her for $20,000 down, $10,000 a month for the first 23 months of the next two years, and $50,000 a month for the last month.

After the agreement was signed, she quickly turned the old house into a home-stay called “Hotel California,” which provides short-term accommodation for recent immigrants to Canada, charging $17,500 a month in rent.

Two years later, Fan paid off the house, and in the meantime, the house had brought her $420,000 (about 2.32 million yuan) in rental income.

The same idea was later “replicated” in Toronto, where she targeted the Chinese student community by buying a small high-rise near the University of Toronto’s main campus, decorating it in the style of a student residence and naming it “Bingbing Inn”, charging an annual rent of 620,000 Canadian dollars. The rent is $620,000 per year.

Later, branches of “Bing Bing Inn” were opened around McGill University, Waterloo University, McMaster University and other universities. It is estimated that this “landlady” type of investment brings her 14% of the value-added income every year.

In addition to celebrities, corporate executives and some officials are also the main force in Vancouver property purchase. Meng Wanzhou, the eldest daughter of Ren Zhengfei, has been disclosed by foreign media to have two properties in Vancouver, valued at 21.9 million Canadian dollars. The corrupt official Lai Changxing, who is suspected of international smuggling, was also found to have a mansion of thousands of square meters in Vancouver West.

What’s more, in order to buy a Vancouver mansion, he pitted himself into the blacklist of the Foreign Affairs Bureau. Global News Canada has reported that luxury homes are inextricably linked to drugs, gambling and money laundering crimes.

“Canada is nothing without China’s hot money.” Bloomberg News’ Pearson said in an interview with CBC that there is a “long, deep and complex” relationship between Vancouver’s development and Chinese money.

“Chinese hot money has created the prosperity of Greater Vancouver and the overheating of the real estate market.” From the Hong Kong people who immigrated to Canada in the 1990s to the mainland middle class that followed, Vancouver became the number one destination for Chinese hot money.

To what extent is the percentage of Chinese in Vancouver high? In Richmond area primary and secondary schools, Cantonese has become the official language, while in West Vancouver area, Filipino maids are basically serving Chinese families. The surrounding schools receive huge donations from Chinese families from time to time. Some humble bungalows have been knocked down by shovels and rebuilt into single-family homes, a favourite of the Orientals, and it is safe to say that the whole of Vancouver has been shaken by a different aesthetic and economy.

Some years ago, Vancouver’s lending policy was also quite friendly to overseas buyers, as long as they could prove their ability to pay. However, with the soaring prices brought about by the home buying frenzy, the province of British Columbia, where Vancouver is located, has introduced property tax and vacancy tax policies for overseas buyers, which seems to have made many ordinary buyers move their eyes to Toronto, but for the truly wealthy, Vancouver is still their first choice. For one thing, the single-family houses can satisfy the rich people’s need for privacy, and on the other hand, the city with a large Chinese population will always have investment benefits for real estate.

Why this is a paradise for Chinese tycoons

In a list of the world’s best cities released by a consulting firm at the end of last year, Vancouver ranked 34th in the list, jumping 7 places compared to last year. Although this performance is only mediocre among the major cities in the world, the introduction of the list review names what makes this city special. Vancouver is probably the city with the highest concentration of Chinese outside of Asia.

And because of the large influx of foreigners, it has also made Vancouver one of the most expensive real estate cities in North America.

A local real estate agent revealed in an interview with The New Yorker that too many Chinese want to move to Vancouver, and it has led his real estate agency to predict that the potential clients of this real estate agency may be more than ten times its current clients in the next decade or so, and he said that the new millionaires created in China and their children in the past few years have turned Vancouver into a “safe-haven city,” and almost many of them have done so with almost no hesitation in buying a home. Compared to those in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Japan, where prices are ranked at the top, Vancouver is already considered very cheap, and the Chinese trend of wanting to diversify their properties and hedge their risks has brought a lot of money introduced to Vancouver.

So, what is it that makes rich Chinese people scramble to settle in Vancouver?

Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada, with a long and narrow coastline, surrounded by rivers and harbors, and its unique location has created excellent climate conditions. Unlike other cities where it is cold all year round, Vancouver is sunny and moderately warm all year round.

In addition to its excellent natural conditions, Vancouver is not particularly far from major cities in China, so it is easy to travel back and forth frequently.

The province of British Columbia, where Vancouver is located, has a relatively low threshold for immigrants, in contrast to the increasingly tightening policies of the United Kingdom and other countries. 12 years of free compulsory education, high coverage of universal health care, child allowances, etc. are all appealing to the wealthy class in China.

Outdoor cyclists in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

The appeal of the area to the wealthy’s assets is the comfort and security that make Vancouver a “hedge city”; “what a hedge city can offer is social and political stability and, in Vancouver’s case, long-term protection against climate change.”

According to foreign media estimates, even if global warming increases the average temperature by 4 degrees Celsius, most of Vancouver will still be above sea level, and the rich and powerful will still be able to stand in their ocean view houses, especially in the two places of West Vancouver and Vancouver West, where various luxury houses are still standing, and now they have a distant view of the ocean, but maybe a hundred years later the ocean view is just closer to them.

The many benefits brought about by rising sea levels in the wake of global warming also confirm the Chinese custom of believing in Feng Shui. A location with a backdrop of mountains and water is considered one of the psychological factors for many people to choose to purchase a property. Many wealthy people would rather avoid those in the metropolis and choose a piece of land where they can place their assets in a place that makes them feel secure.

But because of this, the perceived racism seems to have lost its presence here as well. In Vancouver, the chain of contempt from between classes is greater than race, “How can a white guy who delivers food discriminate against a yellow guy who lives in a mansion and drives a luxury car?”