Much has been written about wealthy Chinese individuals establishing a foothold overseas for the purposes of lower taxes, diversifying investment portfolios or securing better education for their kids.
But what about going to the US to make sure that you’re not about to die?
Real estate developer SOHO China’s Chairman Pan Shiyi posted on his Weibo stream this week that he was visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The Clinic is one of America’s foremost medical institutions.
Which brings up the question of what Pan Shiyi is doing in this small city in southeastern Minnesota. As a native of Rochester, I can tell you that this town is not on the way to anywhere.
The only reason that someone from another part of the world would get on a plane and journey to Rochester is to visit the Mayo Clinic. And the only reason you make an appointment at the Mayo Clinic is if you are seriously ill or if you want to make sure that you are not seriously ill.
When I was growing up in Rochester, I can recall Bill Cosby going to the Clinic for his check ups, Muhammad Ali going there to see if he was good for one more bout (he wasn’t but he fought anyway), and various Saudi sheikhs getting chauffered through our tiny downtown in outsized Rolls Royces. (My father was a physician at the Clinic, so I had a front row seat for the parade of sick celebrities).
Now China is full of health threats. Filthy air, scary water, melamine in your milk and heavy metals in your fruits and vegetables. Sure, we can try to eat healthy and wear a mask, but for a wealthy Chinese billionaire, who is getting to the age where he starts to hear mortality sauntering up behind him, is it worth it to splurge for a few tests at the Mayo Clinic? Sounds like a no brainer.
So while his wife and SOHO partner Zhang Xin is in NYC buying large commercial buildings, Pan seems to be investing in his health.
Unfortunately, while Pan was nice enough to share his photos of the Clinic with us on Weibo he didn’t reveal the purpose for his trip.
Still, I think we can now add better medical care to the list of reasons why Chinese are interested in spending more time, and investing more money in the US.