New wave of Chinese nationals drawn to Malaysia

China is expected to play a growing influence in this region Photograph: South China Morning Post

A report in the South China Morning Post has highlighted a new wave of Chinese nationals moving to Malaysia. The report “Why are Chinese nationals moving to Malaysia?” mentioned two main categories:

MM2H – From 2002 to 2016, a quarter of the 31,732 successful applicants were from China or 7,967. In 2016 alone, over 1,000 Chinese nationals enrolled in MM2H making up 44 per cent of the applicants. Next were the Japanese at a distant 9 per cent.

Migrant workers – especially in the construction sector.

But there is another category that the report didn’t mention: independent students (not just those who come with their families and are enrolled in international schools) who come on their own from China to study in Malaysia.

The other day, I am sitting down having dinner at a shop in George Town. The place is full; and then this skinny, mop-haired teenager walks up and hesitantly asks if he can share my table. Turns out, he is a 15-year-old lad from Hainan and speaks Hakka.

But he seems happy to converse in English; so curiosity piqued, I ask him what he is doing in Malaysia.

“Studying English,” he replies. Apparently, he arrived in Malaysia with a friend and enrolled in an independent Chinese school in Penang. At the school, he says, there are about 60 students from China. He says he feels at home in Penang, it is less stressful, the weather and food are OK, and he likes the old buildings here.

But why doesn’t he study English in China, where I am sure there are many specialist schools teaching English?

“I can, but then I won’t be able to talk (and practise) with many people like I am talking to you now.”

I ask him if he misses his family back home. “No,” he says, sipping his drink. “I can keep in touch with my parents over WeChat.”

Once he finishes his education, he hopes to work as a translator in Kuala Lumpur. (Presumably, by then firms from China would be present in a big way in the Klang Valley). Obviously not in a hurry to return to China then.

Days earlier, I ran into another student from China.

I ask her what she is doing in Penang. Studying architecture in a local university, she says in halting English.

That makes me wonder, why would a student from China, with its many skyscrapers dotting the cityscape and a construction boom, choose to come to Malaysia to study architecture? From a place like China, whose economy is booming, to Malaysia, which is experiencing a slowdown.

A businesswoman, a Chinese national, I meet at a dinner tells me many young Chinese dream of going to North America, but the queues for visas at the US embassy are long.

So some students from China opt to study in Malaysia as a stepping stone before moving on elsewhere. Moreover, the standard of English required for education in Malaysia is slightly lower than that required in the United States, she says. Plus it is probably cheaper to study here, no doubt.

As for the people in China who buy property here – some of these buyers, she says, want to move their money out of China in case their government takes some of it away from them, one way or another, given that inequality is getting to be a problem in China.

The South China Morning Post report cites several pull factors for Chinese nationals moving to Malaysia:

  • lower cost of living
  • cleaner air
  • relatively laid-back (for now) atmosphere in Penang
  • similar culture
  • English education at international schools

But against that, they are not officially allowed to work – but they can buy property, which would be a boon for developers here (despite the restrictions on currency outflow China, which many buyers from China know how to circumvent – for now).

This leads to other problems: who will the developers here prefer to build for – the wealthier foreigners or locals, many of whom can only afford less expensive homes?

All this is happening even before Najib’s new wave of China projects in Malaysia can take hold. These massive infrastructure projects will invariably bring with them many more workers from China – professionals, managers, technicians, less-skilled workers along with developers and construction workers – and let’s not forget the staff of the China banks who will set up shop in Malaysia to bankroll these projects, adding to our debt.

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Jimmy Khoo

Older and rich PRC nationals bought properties in Penang as their winter homes to escape the harsh and cold weather that affect their joints and muscles due to rheumatism (Hokkien: Hong Sip).


The PRC Chinese will not feel safe living in western society, having witnessed their counterpart being shot dead by French policemen in Paris. So Malaysia is a safer option to them, with many international schools for their children.


Even Hong Kong paper also covers the movement of mainland Chinese to Bolehland :

Penang with many locally born handsome Chinese men and charming Chinese ladies can be a draw to rich mainland Chinese seeking spouses. Many Penang parents do not mind having rich in-laws in China to cope with Barang Naik cost of livings, besides being assured of a nice condo to live in!!!

SL Tay

China overtakes S’pore in M’sia property stakes

Ronald Ong

The involvement of China state-owned firms in 1MDB-related projects such as buying power assets and taking stakes in property development ventures have raised legitimate fears that some of these may involve quid pro quo arrangements in other deals which may benefit China firms.

In other words, putting it bluntly, Malaysia may be giving China plum deals in return for help in covering the hole of over RM30 billion in 1MDB.

More details here:

SL Tay

Alibaba Group has signed an agreement with the Malaysian government covering the establishment of an e-fulfillment hub in Kuala Lumpur and a one-stop online cross-border trading platform. The agreement will also include cooperation in e-payment and financing, and development of e-talent training that will fit into Malaysia’s roadmap of transformation into a digital economy. The e-hub to be built near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is under the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) initiative which is being undertaken together with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and other parties. The facility is envisioned to function as a centralized customs clearance,… Read more »

Ronald Ong

Now we know why Jack Ma has offered his consultancy service for free. He came in like a Trojan horse. Digital colonisation by PRC soon, happening at economic cyberspace of Bolehland.

SL Tay

Alibaba is slowly expanding its operations in four Southeast Asian countries – Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. After entering into a cooperation agreement with the Government of Thailand to help develop the country’s e-commerce landscape, the company announced a partnership with the government of Malaysia to develop an e-hub termed the Electronic World Trade Platform. This hub will facilitate cross-border trade with a fulfillment hub based near the Kuala Lumpur Airport and an online cross-border trading services platform, linking this hub to the original one in Hangzhou. With this partnership, Alibaba will build a cloud computing platform in Malaysia to… Read more »

Ronald Ong

PRC Chinese buyers of homes at the Forest City development project in Johor are reportedly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

After being unable to proceed with their purchases due to China’s capital controls, they now have to pay the project’s developer a hefty compensation for backing out from the deals.


Answer: 30 percent penalty (of purchase price)!
Example: Rm1million of purchase price, the penalty = Rm300K
Feeling: Very hefty.

Report: Forest City Chinese buyers face 30 percent penalty clause

Ronald Ong

Country Garden Holdings, whose Forest City project in Malaysia is the biggest overseas project by a Chinese property developer, said it will refund money to mainland investors caught up in Beijing’s escalating crackdown on capital outflows.


The main attraction is the relatively low cost of living no thanks to the downtrodden Ringgit!


Ringgit is very cheap to these foreigners.
Local is having less and less purchasing power, housing price is going up.
Blame who?

Honest Creed

Have to wait another 30 years to become a high income nation if you trust TN50. Until then, property soothsayer Ernest Cheong and his disciple tunglang told us to rent rather than buy property, knowing that we are financially out of reach?


Let’s be honest.
Heard from a friend who was confided by a bank employee that banks prefer not to lelong a property with default payments, rather to revise loan monthly payments to lesser amount which translates to increased tenure, which means the next generation will have to shoulder the said home loan.
This is how desperate & low confidence of bank in property market today.
How can we be more honest than to spin & get others mislead into financial hardship or worst bankruptcy?

Siang Yee

“Next generation will have to shoulder the said home loan”

Like that the legacy from a father is a home loan? How time has changed. Housing developers and the banks must have compassion.

Have you checked up the thick property pages on The Star today? Syiok Sendiri to give awards to themselves without real compassion to build affordable homes like Sultan Johor for Bangsa Johor?


“Next generation will have to shoulder the said home loan”
This is a legacy we should all fight against. But CAT’s 308 saliva talk has UBAH to embrace this greedy-not-enough after a Merc S300Lansi test drive with a lame excuse of discounts.


Home buyers must be realistic in taking home loan for a property they could afford without burdening the next generation, and became the slave to the banks in the process. Do not be kiasu that your children would face higher price later, let them figure out how to make the necessary income to afford one themselves. Ultimately the banks are feeding on the greedy mentality of home buyers.


tun lang you did not rant and make din to well being and housing minister in putra. you want yo fool us to say banks are under state.what federal minister doing behind counter?


who is greed? buyer or seller? no one forced at gun point to buy. even in sydney in big continent there is a unit with width at both armlengths.there are still buyers. 2015 is ancient like ibm 208 computer running at dos floppy. dont kiam siap since you ride in 4wds can make another trip to tang hills. see yellow, tai mountains. taste the high speef rail


One bed-room flat in Hong Kong can cost RM6 million.
Look it up on The Star.


hk gomen is tendering out lands and ah chan companies are out bidding hong land companies.
tun lang your last visit to sz in 2005 is like nokia is building 150sf apartment and price is comparable to a condo.


Greed knows no bound!
What humanity is left in a land of greed is good?


A century ago the mainland Chinese came to Malaya with no money to work as “Koo Li”.

Today they are coming in waves again, this time with money as Jack Ma and his Ali Baba has opened the sesame door for them.

Perhaps MARA’s Anuar see that recognizing UEC is the step in the right direction. MARA may get its students to learn Mandarin as their future bosses could be mainland Chinese! It is a reversal of fortune as the locals could well be the new “koo li” serving the rich PRC Chinese bosses.


Not allowed to work? This can easily be “settled”. They are certainly working – as itenerant hawkers, stall owners and employees of all sorts.

Is this the next wave after the African “students”?


African ‘students’ are here mainly to operate ‘Nigerian Scam’, preying on lonely hearts!


They are here because it is more to learning English in “a Chinese speaking environment”, therefore is always easier for them to catch up.
I have met some of them too, I bet they are quite “visionary” and are more keen to learn new things comparing to our side of students !
Worse still, even many of our so-called local lecturers are lacking in “imaginations” and of very dull characters, just how can our students be innovative enough ?


Posting as observer.To read update of comments.

Honest Creed

Observer also need attention?


Anil Go to BJ area and you can notice many Vietnamese food catering mostly for the working community here. Like it or not, the demographic profile on island is changing fast. For instance, there are less Msian Indians (Tamil speaking) on island and more Bangladeshi, Pakistanis mingle tight within local Mamak community. Anil can interview the post VietCon era Vietnamese in Penang to understand their dreams in Bolehland. With more arrival of Mainland Chinese (in transit to USA), we should witness new blend of Chinese street food from Hainan for example. They may fall in love with the locals to… Read more »

Honest Creed

Jack Ma gave them the reason to dominate e-commerce in Bolehland. No need to risk it all at Trumpland.


Bangladeshis able to rent prime shoplot along Penang road near famous chendol to operate sundry shop, and across the road Burmese set up coffee shop.
This is the cosmopolitan Penang Tunglang yet to identify with, unless he returns to Madras Lane to see the change.


New China immigrants overwhelming local is nonsense but the idea they do not matter is also nonsense given China foreign ambitions. As to their property purchases, its a phenom everywhere and creates bubbles. Like all bubbles, only reality of real demand or lack of will change it, nothing else will.

But the fact is China investments are not innocent, and already their bailing out the Najib & Co and their corruption is a real attack on soverignity of the country..

mr. eddy



Utusan and TV3 should cover such report. Wonder what is the reaction from Jamal Ikan Bakar, Ali Tinju, Ibrahim Katak, Sabri Ismail… on such matter? Not sure how these PRC folks would respond to ‘Balik Cina’ call? Such ‘ambush’ of PRC communists would have made Jins ‘Bkt Kepong’ Shamsudin shiver once again? Will it ultimately change the demographic profile of Malaysian cities? Is Tun M right after all? I think Anil and his ardent readers would be disturbed by such development as it would mean developers would market their condominiums to this segment of customers. Not all PRC folks coming… Read more »


Shenzhen was once a cowboy village and backwards. Now its gdp almost rival hong land. The MTR covers a large area bigger than hOng land and the high speed to guanzhou is waiting to link with hong land. Most important it has created an innovation centre for youth creativity. One can make purchases using smartphone like our public transport card. Or like in Beijing toilet dispenses toilet by means of face recognition. if pg Lang were to go to Shenzhen they eill be like lat’s cartoon of village boy going to a city.


Ha, ha, ha! I have been to Shenzhen in 2005, seen what’s there: Haze everyday (worst than in Malaysia) while a prominent International Expo was going on, poverty in the midst of glitzy, slippery progress (an old frail woman stripping electrical wires for recycling copper at busy, dusty traffic light street corner), prostitution brazenly sold in the streets, child beggars from the village, an ancient homestead with a vegetable garden squeezed in between 2 glitzy high rise commercial complexes, unfriendly office workers in hotel lobby lifts, vengeful exhibition workers (you scold them for amateurish sloppy work, they cut your carpet… Read more »


Tun Lang thinks he is the only malai set his foot in sz? but forgets air Asia flys requently to sz and Macao. Sz has a airport better than klia and is linked to HK airport by bus and frequent taxis. tun Lang don’t you know motorcycles are banned and people have to use electric bike. Now the craze rent a bike with stations set all over including in outer sz. Time for tun Lang to make another study tour and visit the electronic centre. You can get discount at certain centre as you are aged above 65.


… 2005 ah chans come to pg to work. now ah chans come here with cash and buy properties. ah chan built aircraft carrier and shealth planes and send east is red into space. shenzhen has more mtr stns than hong land and the fares are cheap from one end to the other is about rm 5. if u go to sz now eithe u faint or get heart become a ah chan.


Ail, Readers’ Alerts still no functioning!
Too much noises from trolls?

Not a Troll

Why don’t you pay Anil a fee to include a section within this blog for your ranting?


Anil still has not offered tlang a dedicate space to offload his frustrations on cats n dogs destroying his vintage perspectives?


Affodable homes at Telok Kumbar now open for registarion at PDC.

Miss it don’t blame China for no cheap homes.


tun lang is making a lot of noise when developers are constructing highrises for ah chans. why doesnt he make noise when tonnes of durians and kopi o are send to china to feed the mainlanders??

Honest Creed

Durians and Ipoh White Coffee?

Do not forget the bird’s nest from MCA taukehs, and the palm oil that Gerakan Mah is trying to feed the mainland Ah Chans.


Ah chans pays everything in cash like they buy in Hongland. But ma laysians pay in 555 IOU note book . Everything in Malaysia is chip chip. Properties in Malaysia are chip and close to sea or Condon with swimming pools. Condo in China I are rare and very expensive. Ahchans never see a sea before where pg has good beaches.


Anil and his ardent supporters would be very worried if the Chinese are switching their attention from Iskandar Johor to Penang!