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Business News/ Economy / ‘Empty houses everywhere': Former Chinese official's rare public critique on China's economy

‘Empty houses everywhere': Former Chinese official's rare public critique on China's economy

  • Since 2021, after real estate giant China Evergrande group defaulted on its debt obligations, the property sector has slumped in China.

This aerial photograph taken on August 30, 2023 shows a residential complex built by Chinese real estate developer Vanke in Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan province. (Photo by AFP)

Despite having a population of 1.4 billion, China would not be enough to fill all the empty apartments littered across the country, a former official said in a rare public critique of the country's crisis-hit property market, reported Hindustan Times.

Since 2021, after real estate giant China Evergrande group defaulted on its debt obligations, the property sector has slumped in China. Even big firm like Country Garden Holdings continue to fall close to default.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the combined floor area of unsold homes stood at 648 million square metres at the end of August 2023.

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This equals to almost 7.2 million homes based on the average home size of 90 square metres, news agency Reuters reported, adding that numerous residential projects have already been sold but not yet completed due to cash-flow problems.

"How many vacant homes are there now? Each expert gives a very different number, with the most extreme believing the current number of vacant homes are enough for 3 billion people," He Keng, a former deputy head of the statistics bureau, said.

"That estimate might be a bit much, but 1.4 billion people probably can't fill them," he explained at a forum in the southern Chinese city Dongguan, according to a video released by the official media China News Service.

Earlier, a spokesperson at the foreign ministry asserted that the Chinese economy is "resilient".

"All sorts of comments predicting the collapse of China's economy keep surfacing every now and then, but what has collapsed is such rhetoric, not China's economy," the spokesperson said at a recent news conference.

With agency inputs.

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