Why China Keeps Building So Many Western-style Copycat Towns

 

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n a  CBS – 60 Minutes program, correspondent Lesley Stahl reported that China’s real estate economy is at a point of becoming the second largest economy in the world, but the rapid growth that it has sustained over the last 30 years may be creating the largest housing bubble in history, surpassing that of the United States. Read China’s real estate bubble.

One of many unoccupied malls in China

Lesley Stahl sees China’s real estate in what she describes as a quandary. In a conversation with Zhang Xin, China’s real estate mogul, Lesley asked, “If trouble comes in threes, then what’ll be the next global market to melt down after the U.S. and Europe?” Once a country at the forefront of history, China’s closed itself off from the rest of the world and as a consequence become a country that could not compete with the development that the developed world enjoyed through competitiveness in discoveries and research efforts. That has all changed as China’s state-controlled economy became the second largest in the world, supported by direct governmental policies and decrees. China’s real estate industry was a huge beneficiary of government support.

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Will China’s Real Estate Meet a Similar Fate as the United States?

China is no longer a country that is behind the rest of the world in development. As authorities concentrated on making China a competitive country, attention was placed on China’s real estate and construction. It is well known that China has some of the largest highways in the world. This is due to the fact that government is pouring hundreds of millions of RMBs into infrastructure. In its effort to become a competing nation, China’s government is creating a bubble with its hard push in China’s real estate sector. In the most populated country in the world, houses, districts, and cities are being built with no one in them. It is therefore not far-fetched to regard China’s real estate progress as a disaster in the making. See article in The Diplomat.

Gillem Tulloch, a Hong Kong-based financial analyst was one of the first to bring attention to the potential housing situation in China as it relates to China’s real estate bubble. In Zhengzhou province, a new eastern district and highly populated area of the China, brand new housing can be seen but with no one in them. The district is called a “ghost city” uninhabited miles of empty apartments, desolate condominiums, and vacant housing. This is one obvious proof of China’s real estate nearing a bubble.

Zhang Xin China's Self Made Billionaire

How Does Zhang Xin see China’s Real Estate Bubble Different from the U.S.

One of the leading figures in China’s real estate market moved from working in a sweatshop as a teenager to being a billionaire real estate developer. Zhang Xin, the 5th richest woman in China as a result of her investments in China’s real estate industry. Zhang grew up awfully poor, spending her early years in the countryside where her parents were sent because of their education. Destitute and homeless, Zhang and her parents slept in her office on her desk. She later saved enough money, bought a one-way ticket and moved to London England. Zhang went to school to learn English and later earned a degree from the University of Sussex and a Master’s in Economics from Cambridge University. Zhang procured a job as an Investment Banker with Golden Sachs. In 1992, China was now opening its markets to foreign investors and this was the opening for Zhang who with her husband saw China’s real estate market as the place to be.

Chins Going in the Wrong Direction

China’s real estate market is the largest in the world and I believe that investors from other countries will be ready when China lifts its restriction on its people to invest, not only in China’s real estate market but outside its territories into other markets.

 

 

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