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Mortgage strikes threaten China’s economic and political stability

By Martin Farrer and Vincent Ni

 

Analysis: worsening meltdown in the country’s debt-laden property market is at the heart of a problem that comes at a precarious time for the Communist party

The alarm bells are ringing louder. Last week, hundreds of depositors gathered in front of the Zhengzhou branch of the People’s Bank of China in the provincial capital of Henan, demanding their frozen life savings held in rural banks. A day later, tens of thousands of homeowners threatened to stop paying mortgages on scores of unfinished housing projects they had purchased. All of this happened in a week where the officials reported lackluster second-quarter economic performance.

China’s economy is facing a dangerous cocktail of stalling growth, high unemployment, spreading mortgage payment strikes and continued Covid shutdowns that threaten to explode with serious social and political consequences.

The worsening meltdown in the country’s debt-laden property market is at the heart of the problem as the toxic $300bn (£250bn) debt pile unleashed by last year’s collapse of the giant developer Evergrande slowly infects the whole economy.

 

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