If you think three Chinatowns in New York are not enough, then you should expect the fourth one to come soon. But this time, it’s probably a wonderland only for wealthy Chinese people, and nobody else.
Long Island businesswoman Sherry Li proposed to build a massive Chinese community called China City of America in upstate New York’s Catskill region. The project would be located in the town of Thompson including a Chinese Disneyland, a Forbidden City, a college, 1,000 mansions and probably a casino built upon the principles of feng shui. Sherry Li said the development would draw $6 billion in foreign investment with a $65 million contribution from the U.S. government.
It’s questionable how much money the development can draw in the end, but as Sherry Li said, it would bring thousands of wealthy Chinese immigrants to the town under a federal visa program called EB-5, which would allow foreigners to get visas by only investing $500,000 in the U.S.
The plan is still under consideration by the leaders of Thompson, but supervisor Tony Cellini worried that the town, which has a population of 15,000, would have the same number of Chinese if the project fulfills its plan.
Li’s proposal has gotten a lot of opposition online. Some think this is an Eb-5 scam. One reader, Dina from Shawangunk Journal, commented: “China has been systematically destroying their historical neighborhoods and architectural history for the last 75 years and now they want to build some Disney World version of it here? — it makes no sense. And of course, a casino is thrown into the mix just for the hell of it. They want to bring 80,000 people to live in this theme park? That’s almost as big a population as Albany. How could this possibly be realistic or practical? The whole thing sounds unsustainable and crazy — which of course means one day they will clear cut acres and acres of land and then claim they have run out of money.”
Winpk110, a Chinese reader from Guangxi, commented on the Huanqiu news website: “Well, if this is building a Chinese base that spreads Chinese culture in the U.S., then it is acceptable to me. But if the ‘China city’ is just for the convenience of corrupt Chinese profiteers absconding with their money, then it’s better not to build it, in favor of both Chinese and Americans.” Huan Yu posted that “if the city is built, it will attract a lot of corrupt officials and wealthy Chinese to invest. And if the U.S. government is only investing $65 million, and the rest of money is coming from the Chinese, then that means that the majority of the money might be being laundered.”
However, China City of America is not the only project that wealthy Chinese are thinking about. In July, a group of Chinese people from Tongxiang City visited New York and proposed to build a town in upstate New York’s Sullivan County based on China’s historic town of Wuzhen. The town was proposed to include a business center with luxury hotels, restaurants, a theater and an artificial river.
Long Qi’s comment represents Chinese people’s worries about these crazy cities: “Currently, China is seriously lacking in funds and capital investment in its own infrastructure and industrial business. Please do not use these plans to lure the nation’s wealth abroad.”