Dandong to cool property speculation as investors predict DPRK boom

Updated 2018-05-15 14:45:01

Authorities in northeast China city of Dandong have moved to restrict property speculation, after buyers flocked to the city near the country's border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in anticipation of Pyongyang's potential economic opening up.

Posting a statement through its official WeChat account, Dandong Municipal Government said on Monday that property buyers without local household registration would not be able to resell newly-built property in the city's New District until two years after purchase.

Buyers applying for mortgages through non-Dandong housing funds will have to pay 50 percent down-payments on property in the New District, according to the statement.

The New District is located close to the New Yalu River Bridge, a crossing to the DPRK city of Sinuiju that has not yet been opened.

In 2002, Pyongyang announced the Sinuiju Special Administrative Region, an area which was meant to operate under special economic rules and was initially modeled on China's successful economic zones like Shenzhen.

Situated on the Yalu River in Liaoning Province, around 80 percent of China's trade volume with the DPRK passes through Dandong across the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge to Sinuiju.

Following DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's recent meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and high-level representatives from the US, Pyongyang has signaled that it is looking to denuclearize and open up to the outside world.

For Chinese property investors, this glimmer of hope for long-term peace was also interpreted as the first step towards an economic boom in Dandong.

Earlier this month, China Daily reported that house prices rocketed by 57 percent overnight in Dandong's New District, after years of low demand in the area. Lyu Chao, a researcher of border studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily the speculation was "irrational investment behavior based on overoptimistic assumptions."

Dandong is not the only area to have seen property speculation intensify following movements towards peace on the Korean Peninsula. In South Korea, land prices inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) have doubled and even quadrupled in some areas since March, despite the public having no access to the heavily fortified demarcation line.

BY Nicholas Moore

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