Unfinished Buildings in China Drag People Back to Poverty

  • In China, it takes several generations' efforts to buy a house in cities.
  • Unfinished buildings leave countless middle classes frustrated.
  • Unfinished buildings can be found in every city in China.

Beijing. Back from work, parking the car. Even the underground parking lot has a chandelier, shedding light on the luxury cars around. Their owners might be executives at different industries. To get to the elevator, people will pass the four-season entrance hall, with tropical plants and a fountain in the middle. The house will be designed in the popular modern Chinese decoration style, outside of whose windows the lake nearby becomes a favorite for birds…

Chen was promised a house like this.

Before paying the purchase price, Wang was already imagining how nice his future house would be. He would never realize that the house he’s spent over $1.5 million on would end up being an unfinished building. Several neighbors have already moved in.

After relentless protests, the construction company finally installed water and electricity. But most of the building remains nothing more than pure concrete.

Chen says she’s already jealous about what Wang gets. Thirty kilometers away from Wang’s building, Chen faces a worse situation: her detached house remains a hole in the ground. She paid the $75,000 deposit the first day visiting the place in 2019. Detached, five bedrooms and a garden, connected with metros and highways, for just $2.5 million.

Wang’s house remains concrete in many places.

In the center of Beijing, that same price can’t even buy a fifth of this size. “They’re price-capped houses. The only downside is that we can’t sell for at least 8 years. But that’s fine for us.” Chen sold her other two apartments in Beijing for the down payment. If everything had gone well, the house would have finished by April 2020 and been handed over in June.

Some future neighbors went to check the status and saw that the place was full of grass and no sign of any construction. Chen panicked. The 520 buyers realized that their dream might become an unfinished nightmare. The real estate company, Taihe, went bankruptcy.

Owners negotiate with Taihe.

Fast-paced urban life unsettles middle class people such as Wang and Chen, which doesn’t escape the eyes of real estate companies. Gardens, flowerbeds, pavilions… They sell stories of oases in the city, and the Wangs and Chens are the ones to buy them.

“We come from decent families and have a good job. Never thought this kind of things would happen to us.”

Chen rented a small condo after selling her apartments in Beijing, living together with her husband and his parents, plus two kids. She told everyone that they were moving into the detached house in just a year.

Unfinished buildings can be found everywhere in China.

Now, Chen and her husband are too scared to tell the truth. Working from 9 am to 6:30 pm, all she wants after work is a comfortable place to relax. The hope’s gone, and her frustration surges.

Unfinished buildings can be found in every city in China, mostly due to incomplete legal permits or capital flow disruptions. Behind each ghost town are hundreds of households sliding slowly away from the middle class.

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Just another attempt to show a more real China.

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