BEIJING — Chinese millionaires pleaded Tuesday for the Canadian government not to throw away the immigration applications of thousands of Chinese nationals as part of its plans to end a backlogged investor program.
At a news conference, 10 investor applicants delivered their message — that their faith in Canada as a ‘‘trustworthy country,’’ with its attractive rule of law, environment, and welfare system, was wavering.
Last month, Canada announced its intention to terminate its immigrant investor program and eliminate the backlog of applications — amounting to more than 65,000 people, most of whom are Chinese. It said immigrant investors pay less in taxes than other immigrants and are less likely to stay in Canada over the medium to long term.
Investor applicants, some of whom had applied five years ago, said they were discussing their options with lawyers in Canada and whether to claim compensation for the years they had been waiting.
As China’s top leaders meet during this week’s ceremonial Legislature, the National People’s Congress, it is a reminder that all is not well at home, and suggests for some citizens, the ‘‘Chinese dream’’ that President Xi Jinping talks about is to be found on other shores.
Shanghai-based Duan Wuhong said for her, Canada’s education system, environment, social welfare, and rule of law were attractive factors. But she added: ‘‘The most important thing is the government is trusted. This is the most important thing for us to choose Canada.’’
She said at the time of her application she had considered other countries including the United States. ‘‘Applying to Canada is the worst decision I have made in my life. Before I thought it was the best.’’
Immigration consultant Larry Wang said that the Canadian government’s policy was ‘‘unjustified’’ and the investor applicants want Canada to ‘‘correct its mistake.’’
‘‘They are not refugees. They can have a very good life in China. They just want to have a better life in Canada,’’ said Wang.
Wang said it was Canada’s right to stop its investor program, but it should not disqualify candidates who had already applied.
Canadian immigration minister Chris Alexander said in an e-mailed statement that the government ‘‘will not waste taxpayers’ dollars on programs that do not meet their objectives, are vulnerable to abuse, or do not promote Canadian interests.’’