According to the SCMP, China has witnessed a rise in the number of professionals searching for emigration opportunities in recent months. The rise comes amid growing discontent about the draconian lockdown in Shanghai.

The search for the keyword “immigration” has skyrocketed 400 times in the past month, according to the Baidu Index. WeChat has also experienced a similar situation.

Rutina Liang, a Shanghai tech enterprise’s director, told SCMP, that she has been considering moving abroad since last year. She also noted about the trend had been popular among tech professionals. The state’s strict pandemic measures and oppression of people’s freedom have made many people like her think about leaving China.

She said, “I am really scared. I have never felt so insecure [in family safety and asset security].”

Another couple has also decided to leave Shanghai for Canada due to the lockdown. The husband said the leaving decision was mainly because of China’s tight censorship environment. However, Shanghai’s lockdown is what made him come to the final decision.

He added, “The only news available was about what the [lockdown] policies required us to do and there was little about what was actually happening, especially … to elderly people and in hospitals. This is really unacceptable to us.”

A young engineer from a California IT networking company told SCMP that he decided not to back to China. He said, “My original plan was to return to China after graduation, but now I tend to seek opportunities in Singapore because I feel that individuals are so helpless under the state apparatus and individual rights are not respected (in China).”

According to Guo Shize, a partner at a Beijing-based immigration consultancy service, his company’s interest has increased two-fold since the end of March. His clients range from high-net-worth individuals to technical professionals. The company has been so busy that they have to work on weekends.

More clients of Guo are interested in the United States’ EB-1 visa – for individuals with extraordinary abilities in various fields. Many of them are engineers in big IT firms like Huawei, technology-company entrepreneurs, and pharmaceutical industry executives.
The immigration consultant said that the epidemic in China has made professional talents feel insecure and uncertain about their future income and development.

Hong Kong-based emigration Famed Star Group has also enjoyed 60-70% growth in inquiries from Southern China about high-level talent visas compared with the same period last year.

Apart from Shanghai, many areas in China have gradually joined the lockdown. According to Japanese financial services conglomerate Nomura Holdings’s estimate, around 373 million residents in 45 cities across China have been under some form of lockdown since April.

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