Homebuyers across China are sending an ultimatum to local developers, threatening to stop mortgage payments unless they resume construction of unfinished projects in a certain time.
As Bloomberg reported, the buyers of the Dynasty Mansion project have written a nearly 600-word letter. They asked the builder, China Evergrande Group, to complete the half-built project.
They gave a warning: “All homebuyers with outstanding mortgage loans will stop paying,” if the construction is not resumed before Oct. 20.
The ultimatum has spread across Chinese social media platforms, such as WeChat and TikTok. Homebuyers of other unfinished projects have turned it into a call to action.
In days, the letter became a template for homebuyers in many cities, from Shanghai to Beijing, from Shenzhen to Zhengzhou. They are using it to draft their own manifestos, asking developers to resume construction within a specified time limit or face the boycott of mortgage payments.
A homebuyer from the halted Evergrande project in Jingdezhen said that he did not want to cause trouble, but he had no choice.
He said: “All we want is the attention of the local government. We hope they bear the responsibility.”
In a matter of weeks, protests have emerged at more than 320 projects in about 100 cities, rattling real estate markets.
Christian Goebel is a professor at the University of Vienna. He said that the coordinated boycott of this scale has never happened before in China.
For years, communist-controlled China could hardly tolerate the existence of dissidents. But the sweeping boycott of mortgage payments, in addition to the protests of the depositors against Henan rural banks over money withdrawals, are changing the face of dissent in the country.
According to Bloomberg, the mortgage boycott by hundreds of thousands of middle-class Chinese has become one of the most effective protests China has seen in recent years. It also became the latest form of mass protest in the country.
Chinese authorities were forced to call on banks and developers to defuse the unrest.
Last week, China’s Politburo, the central decision-making body, called on local officials to ensure the completion of the housing projects, a current important task for the economy. State-owned banks have also been forced to fund the work.
Seeking to maintain social stability before this year’s Communist Party congress, authorities have also begun to stifle dissent—scrubbing posts, silencing protesters, and banning file-sharing links.
Numerous platforms that reported on the unfinished projects were banned. The posts that listed all delayed projects were deleted. And social media accounts of a large number of protesters were suspended.
Some told Bloomberg that police had tracked them down. One said that many buyers from the Evergrande project had to shut their mouths due to police threats.
Goebel said that the homebuyers’ protests show that something is really wrong with China’s real estate industry.
He said that the CCP should target the developers rather than the homebuyers.