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Updated 10:35 AM EDT, Thu, Apr 18, 2019

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Private Island Ownership: Status Of Wealth Among Chinese

Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 - Leg 4

(Photo : Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images) AT SEA - FEBRUARY 25: In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Team Alvimedica, The straight line drag-race to Auckland enters its first full day with the rich only getting richer at the front of the line--always sailing into the stronger winds first. Alvimedica heads south towards New Zealand, with under 900 miles to go of Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland at sea on February 25, 2015 near Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews.

Extremely rich people buy cars, house and lots or luxury timepieces to celebrate their bountiful wealth. Extremely rich people from mainland China, on the other hand, buy private islands.

In China, instead of getting luxury cars or prime real estates, the extreme rich go even bigger: they purchase islands. In fact, China Daily reported that there is a growing number of rich Chinese island owners that even go overseas to buy different islands. Lin Dong, a 42-year old Guangdong entrepreneur who made it big by selling medical equipment, is the founder of the China Island Owners Association. He bought his first island around nine years ago and has since bought more than 30 islands.

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His association has around 60 members as the South China Morning Post reported, and he plans to target the growing number of island owners on the mainland.

Lin plans to fly off to the south Pacific in search for more islands to buy after hearing that Auckland-based former property developer Wendy Wei Mei Wu flew off the coast of the northernmost part of New Zealand and purchased a 217-hectare island, calling it one of her toys.

However, not all rich Chinese are spending money for pleasure alone. Asia Times reported that other businessmen see these islands as investments; some of them are used for tourism, while others are used as a fishing development. Overseas islands are a much lucrative business too, given that islands outside the mainland are usually freehold, compared to Chinese islands that carry loads of restrictions and are only leased for 50 years. Just last March, islands from Canada, Fiji, Greece and the United Kingdom were posted for sale online, and within 12 hours, three of them have already been sold.

Buying islands seems like a high-stakes alternative to buying real estate not only because it is more lucrative but also because the returns are obviously much better. Initially it may seem like a very big cash-out deal, but in the long run, the return of investment is particularly large, whether in cash, in kind or in status.

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