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Unbearable Burden of Housing Pesters Common People

"Shanghai's housing prices made me dizzy," said Yu Guosheng, vice director of Shanghai Municipal Development and Reform Commission on Friday.


Yu made the comment immediately after he arrived in Beijing to attend the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) slated to convene on Saturday, speaking of the souring real estate prices in the eastern China metropolis.


Actually, buying an apartment or house in many Chinese cities has become one of the top concerns of Chinese wage-earners, whose salaries increase far slower than that of the hiking real estate prices.


In Shanghai, the average price of residential houses is about 50,000 yuan per square meter, almost the yearly incomes of a Chinese common people with a quite presentable job, said NPC deputy Yu.


According to the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), China's average commercial housing price stood at 2,777 yuan (335 US dollars) per square meter in the first nine months last year, up 13 percent year-on-year.


The figure continued to grow in 35 major Chinese cities in the fourth quarter last year, up 10.8 percent on a year-on-year basis.


A survey conducted by the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC) shows the average ratio between housing price and income is approaching 12:1 in some Chinese cities such as Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, one of China's economic booming towns.


The ratio between housing prices and disposable incomes should reasonably range between 4:1 to 6:1 in developing nations, according to a research done by the World Bank.


Recently, some Chinese urban dwellers started to discuss the possibility of pooling money together to construct their own houses or apartments, a noticeable response to the fast-increasing housing price for commercial residence.


Song Linfei, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said polarity of the country's real estate market should heed more attention from government departments, research institutions and developers.


More affordable housing projects should be developed, said Song, from Nanjing, while attending this year's CPPCC session on Friday.


In addition, governments at various levels should make it easier for people to build their own residence and diversify housing supply means in China.


"The unbearable burden of buying a place to live will definitely embark heated discussions in the CPPCC and NPC sessions," said Song, president of Jiangsu Provincial Academy of Social Sciences. 


(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2005)


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