BEIJING - Chinese millionaire Su builds skyscrapers in Beijing and is one of the people powering China's economy on its path to becoming the world's biggest.
He sits at the top of a country - economy booming, influence spreading, military swelling - expected to dominate the 21st century. Yet the property developer shares something surprising with many newly rich in China: He's looking forward to the day he can leave.
Su's reasons: He wants to protect his assets, he has to watch what he says in China, and he wants a second child, something against the law for many Chinese. His wife is already in the U.S. The millionaire spoke on condition that only his surname was used because of fears of government reprisals that could damage his business.
China's richest are increasingly investing abroad to get a foreign passport, to make international business easier but also to give them a way out of China.
The United States is the most popular destination for Chinese emigrants, with rich Chinese praising its education and health care systems. Last year, nearly 68,000 Chinese-born people became legal permanent residents of the U.S., 7 percent of the total and second only to those born in Mexico.
It is a bothersome trend for China's communist leaders who have pinned the legitimacy of one-party rule on delivering economic growth and a rising standard of living.
They have succeeded in lifting tens of millions of ordinary Chinese out of poverty while also creating a new class of super rich. Yet affluence alone seems a poor bargain to those with the means to live elsewhere. Plus the poor resent the newly rich, who feel uneasy.
Despite more economic freedom, the communist government has kept its tight grip on many other aspects of daily life. China's leaders punish public dissent and any perceived challenges to their power, and they censor what can be read online and in print.
Authoritarian rule, meanwhile, has proved ineffective in addressing old problems of pollution, contaminated food and a creaking health care system.
"In China, nothing belongs to you. Like buying a house. You buy it, but it will belong to the country 70 years later," said Su, lamenting the land leasing system.