Planet China

It wasn’t me

In WiC168 we posed the question: will Guiyang be China’s next real estate disaster? The capital of Guizhou had gone on a building binge, leaving it with blocks of unsold residential property and even drawing comparisons in the media to the ghost city of Erdos in Inner Mongolia. Well, Guiyang’s property market was back in the press last week after a report from the National Audit Office found that the city had built 30,000 affordable units (as requested by former Premier Wen Jiabao, see WiC118). However, it turned out they were empty, largely because they weren’t connected to the electricity grid and the water system. The state broadcaster CCTV duly sent a crew to investigate why Rmb8.5 billion ($1.32 billion) had been spent and no one had thought to ensure the buildings had access to utilities. When journalists visited the office of Guiyang’s housing bureau, its department head Liu Zhu (the man sitting in said office) denied he was the boss, but pretended to be a lower official who had just come to study some charts. Temporarily put off the scent, they searched for Liu elsewhere. However, after checking the government’s website the press pack discovered they had met Liu after all, and that he had deceived them about his identity. This didn’t work out well for Liu who has since been publicly reprimanded by his superiors and sent on a reeducation programme (the death of many a Party career). The Guiyang municipal government has also apologised for its errors and promised the housing will soon be habitable and allocated to eligible tenants. Watch this space…

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