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Government to Buy New Affordable Houses in Beijing
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Beijing plans to build 110,000 affordable houses units with a total floor space of 8 million square meters before 2008. These affordable houses will not be sold by the owner on market but bought back by the government in order to fight speculation.

Beijing Housing Construction Plan for 2006-2010 says that Beijing will provide 210,000 affordable housing units with a combined floor space of 15 million square meters to meet the vast housing demands of middle and low income families. Some 110,000 units will be built before 2008.

The plan also proposes that affordable houses should be bought back by the government in order to fight speculation. Stipulating the size of the planned flats, the plan called for one bedroom apartment to be around 40 square meters, and two-bedroom apartments about 60 square meters.

Beijing's housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years. Half of all new apartments in August sold for more than 9,000 yuan (US$1,125) per square meter, according to a website affiliated to Beijing Construction Commission, with the current average selling price of affordable housing at less than 4,000 yuan (US$500) per square meter.

Beijing's per capita disposable income averaged 17,653 yuan (US$2,206.6) in 2005, according to Beijing Statistics Bureau.

China began to build affordable houses in the 1990s. Usually built by commercial housing developers receiving tax rebates from the government, their prices are fixed by the government.

By the end of 2005, a total of 470 million square meters of affordable housing had been built nationwide, housing 5.7 million families, according to the Ministry of Construction.

(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)

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