Foreigners in Beijing on Sunday received the right to buy home as free as Beijingers.
The housing management department of the local government began as of Sunday a new practice, which imposes no special restriction on foreigners buying homes in Beijing.
For more than eight years, commercial houses in Beijing were split into two categories: Houses for Beijingers and Houses for Outsiders.
Houses of the first category were developed by Chinese companies for sale to enterprises, organizations and people of Beijing, while the second category was generally funded by overseas capital and mainly for sale to overseas companies, organizations and individuals. Enterprises and organizations based in other areas of China were also limited to the second category.
In the eyes of the buyers, the biggest difference between the categories was price. Targeting wealthy foreigners, houses for outsiders were much more expensive than houses for locals.
An official of Beijing Administration of Land Resources and Housing said the restriction was lifted to meet the needs of the 2008 Olympic Games, making Beijing an international metropolis and developing the real estate industry.
"It won't bring about too much fluctuation on Beijing's real estate market," he said.
In practice, the line between the two categories is being blurred as Beijingers are also buying high-quality "Houses for Outsiders" and price differences between the categories are narrowing.
Alistair Nicholas, general manager of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide Beijing Office, said lifting the restriction would benefit both foreigners and the Chinese people.
There are more than 40,000 foreigners living in Beijing.
(Xinhua News Agency Septembert 2, 2002)