And Finally

All at sea

Controversy erupts over a floating mansion near Shenzhen

All at sea

Liquid asset

The Chinese government wants to sink the property market. Literally.

A luxury villa floating off the coast of Shenzhen (not far from Hong Kong) that cost close to Rmb100 million ($14.6 million) to build may be forcibly demolished because its developer did not obtain the correct building permits.

According to the China Daily, the floating residence was first investigated three years ago.

Last year, the authorities handed down a fine of Rmb711,000 to the developer and asked that the property be moved. But the developer refused to pay, claiming it lacked the funds. So the authorities took the dispute to court.

The villa’s owner Guo Kuizhang denies that his accommodation is illegal. “We have the approval from the oceanic administration of Guangdong to develop a high-end oceanic entertainment project,” he says. “The villa has existed for six years. If it is illegal, it should have been demolished then, not now.”

Guo, a property developer himself, started building the villa on fish rafts in Dongshan Bay near Shenzhen. The floating structure is held in place by 39 anchors, each weighing a tonne, and rests on more than 2,000 foam cushions.

The villa is said to be highly exclusive – tourists are not invited – and is stocked with antiques and expensive furniture. It even has a small horse-breeding farm. The locals refer to it as the “palace of the sea”.

But the authorities don’t appear to care, insisting that it will be demolished (or torpedoed?) if Guo does not act.

Officials have told the Shenzhen Daily that Guo originally received a permit for fishery-related construction, for a project that was supposed to help promote local tourism.

Not only has Guo not kept his end of the deal, it is claimed, but his villa is disrupting the local economy.

“The place is only for big people coming on weekends and holidays. We cannot even get close to it,” a fisherman complains.

Safety is an issue too. Guo is said to host large parties, with lavish fireworks. This is potentially hazardous to neighbouring wooden rafts, say local officials.

What’s next? “I have no choice but to leave it there and see what will happen,” Guo laments.

That may not be as bad a tactic as it sounds.

Because China has no laws regulating ‘oceanic entertainment projects’ – the case is unprecedented – no one seems quite sure what the proper response should be.

The China Daily has learned that the authorities are struggling to find “the right department to solve the issue”.

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