China Beat Archive



Michael Gsovski

Date of this Version


Document Type



2011 in The China Beat


Copyright 2011. Used by permission.


There are serious problems in the Chinese housing market. While the average urban resident has to deal with constant rent hikes and the threat of eviction in the face of new construction, the rich buy extra apartments to shield their wealth against inflation. Not only is this an economic threat, but in China it is a particular threat to stability as well. Firstly, since the turbulent boom years of the China’s opening and reform period, owning housing has been seen as a useful hedge for ordinary people against an otherwise uncertain economic situation. Secondly, owning—rather than renting—an apartment or other housing has long been a cultural precondition for Chinese men if they are to marry. When people talk about apartments being “maibuliao” (“unaffordable”) for ordinary people, the words are spat like a curse.