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China’s Local Officials’ Unconventional Tricks to Boost Home Buying

Ming Pao, a Hong Kong based daily Chinese-language newspaper, recently reported a viral online video of a Chinese official’s speech on promoting home purchasing. Deng Bibo, head of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee in Shimen County of Changde City, Hunan Province, called on CCP cadres at a local real estate trade show to spearhead efforts to buy properties. “I hope that at today’s meeting, we, comrades and leaders, will take the lead in buying properties. After buying one unit, buy a second, third and fourth unit.”

Deng’s remark was not an isolated incident. According to the mainland Chinese media, the government of Si County in Suzhou City, Anhui Province, also issued an “Initiative on creating prosperity for the real estate industry,” calling on civil servants to mobilize their friends and relatives to participate in the home buying campaign.

In Huzhou city, Zhejiang Province, there is a “Notice on promoting the stable and healthy development of the real estate industry in our city.” The proposed measures include encouraging state-owned enterprises to acquire the unsold houses of real estate developers, and adjust the policy on the use of the “housing provident fund,” a mandatory contribution by employees and employers for the purpose of housing expenditures.

In the first seven months of this year, the total sales area of commercial properties in China dropped by a whopping 23.1 percent over the same period last year, and sales revenue by 28.8 percent. It is believed that sluggish consumer purchasing power is behind the downturn in the housing market.

In addition to traditional measures of stimulating the housing market, Beijing also passes political pressure onto local governments to “stabilize the property market.” That is why local officials, who generally look to the housing market for fiscal revenue, are coming up with unconventional tricks such as Deng’s remark and practices in other provinces.

Source: Ming Pao, August 18, 2022