Skip to content
The Editors

China Needs to Do More Than Placate Angry Homeowners

While short-term relief will help, the government should also rethink zero-Covid policies that are depressing the housing market. 

Unfinished business. 

Unfinished business. 

Photographer: Andrea Verdelli/Bloomberg

In dozens of cities across China in recent weeks, middle-class homeowners have launched protests, furious that construction has stalled on apartments for which they’re already shelling out mortgage payments. The government has moved quickly to head off an immediate crisis. But it needs to do more to address the deeper problems weighing down China’s housing market.

Struggling private developers, including debt-laden China Evergrande Group, are the main focus of buyers’ anger. Burdened by slumping prices and a government crackdown on overleveraged companies, several haven’t been able to come up with the cash to complete scheduled projects. More than 70% of Chinese homes are sold before construction is finished; homeowners with mortgages start paying long before they receive keys. After one group of buyers in central China threatened last month to withhold payments if construction on their homes didn’t resume, similar boycotts began to spread.