China netizens react to ‘student’ purchase of Vancouver mansion
16 May 2016
- From the section China
Chinese social media users have reacted with incredulity to reports a Chinese student bought a $31.1m Canadian dollar ($24m; £16.7m) mansion in Vancouver.
The property, on the coast in the Port Grey area, has five bedrooms and sits on 0.7 hectares (1.7 acres) of land, local media reported.
Land title documents show a Tian Yu Zhou owns 99% of the property and is a “student”, the reports said.
Ciue Feng, a businesswoman, is listed as owning the other 1%.
It has not been possible to independently confirm the pair’s stated occupations.
Vancouver regularly scores well in global rankings of the world’s most liveable cities, but the increasing unaffordability of local homes, and the shortage of rental properties, has been described as a “crisis” by the city’s mayor.
‘Where does the money come from?’
Local politician David Eby, a critic of Vancouver’s housing policy, told local newspaper the Province it was “incredibly strange that a student would be able to afford such a luxurious and multi-million-dollar property”.
Social media users in China also questioned how a student could afford a 1,356 sq m (14,600 sq ft) palace with spectacular sea views.
“House prices in Greater Vancouver have been fluctuating lately, while British Columbia is the province that has the lowest average wage and highest prices in Canada,” said Weibo user The First One Who Leaves East for West.
“So most buyers must have come from abroad. The question now is, where does the money come from?”
Some speculated the sale might be a way to hide “dirty money” outside China, amid a nationwide crackdown on corruption. There is no evidence the sale, nor the money behind it, were illegitimate.
More sympathetic netizens pointed out that while the property may be one of the city’s priciest, the cost per square metre is lower than many luxury homes in Shanghai or Beijing – a bubble some fear may pop – making it a more sensible investment than the inflated price tag might suggest.
Other observers have also pointed to the depreciation of the yuan and the slowing Chinese economy – something the purchase could help hedge against.
Property prices in Vancouver have soared in recent years, with some laying part of the blame on an influx of foreign money, often Chinese, into the property market, particularly in the city’s West Side which was home to the latest deal.
There was a nod to this resentment in the Chinese reaction too.
A Weibo user from Liaoning, wrote: “Is it now the fact that the richest people in Vancouver are all Chinese? They scare the hell out of those Canadians.
“A country that is still struggling along the poverty line has managed to overcome a developed state. Such a stark contrast!”
Source: BBC World