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Commentary in China’s mouthpiece media seeks to calm property speculation, draws online derision instead

China’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily has weighed in on the country’s housing frenzy with a commentary designed to calm home buyers and speculators, but which has instead drawn derision online.

An opinion piece carried by the website of the communist party media flagship on Monday night said hard work is more meaningful than profiting from property deals.

Property prices have seen rapid increases of thirty to forty per cent in some of China’s first- and second-tier cities from last year. Expecting home prices to rise further, many home buyers are rushing to buy new flats even after new purchase rules were imposed to slow panic buying.

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The article used a fictional online story of a Chinese businessman who sold his home to start his own business then bought his original home back after 10 years with what he earned in that decade, to conclude that the fast rise of property prices devalues people’s hard work.

“When hard work is deemed inferior to property speculation, it can lead to a wrong direction and values,” the author Li Zhen wrote. “If the public spend too much time on short-term benefits from speculating on properties, it will squeeze out the desire to fight for long-term goals.”

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Claiming that real estate is a significant part of China’s economy but not its core competitiveness, the piece ends with a slogan-type reminder: “What’s most important is we can’t lose our faith in hard work because of rising home prices. Rather than believe in homes, we should believe in our hands.”

Thousands of netizens, many of whom have worked hard for years, mocked the People’s Daily article on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Many of those posts and comments were quickly deleted by Chinese censors.

One popular comment that was liked by close to 1,000 readers said, “Didn’t People’s Daily get it the wrong way round? It is ridiculous that home prices make our hard work meaningless.” Another widely shared comment said, “These words sounds good to the ears, but those who say them are not good people. Most people spend their lives working hard but eventually lose their earnings to high taxes and rocketing home prices. Policymakers don’t try to reduce the tax. What’s the point of talking about all this trash? ”