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Beijing Housing Authorities Tighten Regulations on Commercial Real Estate Projects

On March 27, Beijing Business Today, a daily newspaper affiliated with the Beijing Daily Newspaper Group, reported on its front page that housing authorities in China’s capital tightened regulations on commercial real estate projects.

Late Sunday, the city’s housing, urban planning, industry and commerce, and banking authorities released  an official statement that new commercial real estate projects — including those converted from office buildings to individual units — may be sold only to qualified enterprises, public institutions, and social organizations. In addition, the smallest unit for sale should not be less than 500 square meters.

Moreover, personal loans for the purchase of commercial real estate have also been suspended. The statement also said that second-hand commercial housing can only be sold to individuals who have paid their income taxes or social insurance for five consecutive years and have no houses under their names in Beijing.

Prior to this new round of strict tightening, commercial real estate converted for residential use has been a viable alternative given Beijing’s prohibitively high housing prices, despite the fact that the children of the residents are not qualified to attend school near where they live. In the past few years, 50 to 60 percent of commercially developed real estate has been sold to individuals for (residential) living.

Housing market analysts expect the new regulations will slow down the commercial real estate market significantly and reduce the number of units changing hands by over 30 percent.

According to 21st Century Business Herald, a Guangzhou-based national newspaper, the tightened restriction has the purpose of slowing down population growth in Beijing, as well as preventing a negative impact that the rising cost of office space will have on business activities.

Beijing Business Today, March 27, 2017
21st Century Business Herald, March 28, 2017

BBC Chinese: Tsai Ing-wen Kicked Off Taiwan’s Own Submarine Manufacturing Plan

BBC Chinese recently reported that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen officially announced that, due to the increased threats from the Mainland and the effort the Mainland put in place to prevent Taiwan from purchasing foreign submarines, Taiwan decided to construct its own submarines. The submarine project has been assigned to a joint team from both the Chungshan Institute of Science and the CSBC Corporation Taiwan (CSBC is China Ship Building Corporation). Earlier, Taiwan had sent mission groups to Europe to acquire submarine design blueprints and patents. However, many potential partners declined their request. Taiwan currently has four outdated submarines. They bought two of them from the United States in 1973; these had a 1940’s design. They bought another two submarines from Holland in the 80’s. Several Taiwanese shipbuilders claimed they were fully capable of building submarines. President Tsai’s plan is to launch the new submarines in eight years.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 21, 2017

RFA: Microsoft Customized Windows 10 for the Chinese Government

Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently reported that, according to Microsoft, a joint effort between Microsoft and its Chinese partner has been completed. The project was to customize the Windows 10 operating system to comply with the requirements that the Chinese government imposed. Experts expressed their belief that this new accomplishment may improve the weak sales situation of Microsoft products in the Mainland China market, which has heavily regulated and controlled the Internet market landscape. The customized Windows 10 version is designed specifically for government purchases instead of for the consumer market. Many international technology companies had to do the same thing. Qualcomm, Intel, and IBM all took the same approach. However, Microsoft did not reveal what they did for the Chinese government. The customization was required under the Chinese government’s worry about “back doors.” This task was challenging because Microsoft had to satisfy China’s requirements while protecting its core intellectual properties as well as ensuring that the Chinese government would not monitor the company.

Source: RFA, March 22, 2017

Global Times: Multiple Countries Found North Korean Diplomats Violated Local Laws

Global Times recently reported, based on South Korean media reports, that quite a few North Korean diplomats have violated the local laws in several countries and have attempted to avoid the local authorities’ punishment. For example, when the governments of Laos and Egypt were implementing United Nations resolutions on sanctioning North Korea, those countries expelled some people registered as North Korean diplomats due to their illegal activities. Also, the North Korean embassies in Romania, Germany, and Poland have often used the embassies’ real estate for commercial activities, which is not allowed under the local laws. The Bulgarian government officially announced that Bulgaria will fully comply with the UN resolutions and has asked the North Korean embassy to bring down its personnel size. Bulgaria also required North Korea not to use its real estate properties for any purposes other than diplomatic activities.

Source: Global Times, March 23, 2017


South China Morning Post: Son Committed Murder to Save His Mom

The South China Morning Post carried an article about an incident involving a young man who killed the people who were harassing and assaulting him and his mother because she could not repay her debt which included interest at the rate of 10 percent per month. The article resulted in widespread attention on the Internet.

Su Yingxia, a businesswoman in Shandong Province was unable to pay back 135 million yuan (US$19.63 million) an amount which included interest that accumulated at the rate of 10 percent per month on money she borrowed from a private company. On April 14, 2016, 11 debt collectors surrounded her and her 22 year old son Yu Huan and harassed them for over an hour. The debt collectors hurled verbal abuse at them, slapped their faces, and beat them. The mother was sexually insulted in front of her son. According to the eye witness, after the police arrived at the scene, they told the debt collectors that it is fine to try to collect the debt but they can’t beat people up. Then the police just left. Realizing that the police were not going to do anything, Yu Huan grabbed a knife and stabbed four people. One of them died on the way to the hospital and three others were injured. On February 17, 2017, Yu Huan was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently appealing his case.

The article also disclosed that both the owner of the private firm and the collector who was killed had connections with a gang organization. The private firm was registered in the name of a real estate company but in its operations it sold high interest rate loans and had a debt collection business in which it hired local unemployed people. After the incident, 22 companies in the region came up with over 100,000 yuan  (US$ 14,540) in donations to help Su Yingxia with her son’s legal fees because they had had similar experiences and were sympathetic about her situation.

There were over 250 comments posted about the article. People were sad and disappointed. Some expressed anger towards the police for failing to stop the tragedy. Some people praised the South China Morning Post for having the courage to be the first media to cover the story.

Source: South China Morning Post, March 24, 2017

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