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BEIJING (Reuters) - Nearly half of Chinese worth more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) have mulled emigrating, mainly to seek better opportunities for their children's education, results of a new survey showed.
According to a survey released at the weekend by the Hurun Report, which also publishes an annual China rich list, and Bank of China, 46 percent of the 980 millionaires surveyed are considering leaving China.
Fourteen percent have either emigrated or applied, said the survey, which was done in 18 Chinese cities from May to September this year, and said 60 percent want to leave to seek a better education for their children.
China's leaders have pinned the legitimacy of one-party rule on delivering quick economic growth and higher standards of living to spread more widely among the population.
But the Communist Party has not succeeded in tackling problems that have long plagued the nation, including its rigid education system, worsening social environment, high living costs and food safety concerns that have led those with the means to consider leaving.
"To buy a house in Beijing, the price now is the same as that abroad, but you enjoy no other benefits," a woman surnamed Luo, who has emigrated to Britain, was quoted as saying in a recent issue of popular magazine Lifeweek. "To live abroad, the cost is not higher, but you definitely enjoy it more."
One third of the people surveyed have engaged in "investment immigration," which allows a person to emigrate after he or she agrees at first to invest a certain amount of money in the host country.
The report did not list the most popular destinations for China's rich emigrants though state news agency Xinhua said in October that Canada and Australia are the two most favored.
The average respondent was 42 years old and worth more than 60 million yuan, the survey said.
The report was greeted with envy online, with many scornful of the Chinese government. Most Internet users on China's Twitter-like microblogging website Sina Weibo said they would have done the same, if they were rich.
"If you can flee, flee immediately," a microblogger using the name "Jiang Langzi" said.
Reporting by Sally Huang and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ed Lane