Wed, Feb 27, 2013 - Page 9 News List

China’s Dubai rapidly turning into deserted island

Many Chinese are off-loading property as a way of generating cash to repay business loans at a time when profits are falling

By Tom Hancock  /  AFP, SANYA, China

At the same time ordinary Chinese who cannot afford to buy a home have been frustrated by high housing costs for years.

With anger over graft also mounting, state media have carried several reports in recent weeks about corrupt officials’ property holdings, including a policeman who used a fake identity card to buy at least 192 dwellings.

Hainan’s tropical shores are said to be a hotspot for purchases by well-connected bureaucrats, but estate agents denied they were rushing to sell off apartments for fear of a crackdown.

Officials only account for around 20 percent of owners, they said — while doubting any new regulations would be properly enforced.

“There are always different rules for people with connections,” said one agent, asking to remain anonymous.

It is an example of the multiple competing interests the authorities have to balance, leaving them treading a difficult line, with sometimes unforeseen consequences.

On the other side of Hainan, at the Seaview Auspicious Gardens, which boasts beachside villas accessed by artificial rivers and a private library containing 100,000 books, prices have fallen by a third from a high of 12,000 yuan per square meter in the last year, and a third of the flats remain unsold.

Yang Qiong has a thankless task as one of its saleswomen.

“Before the government restrictions we would sell out a development like this in just five months,” she lamented.

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