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Sudden drop in Chinese property prices leaves speculators reeling

Developers in some Chinese cities have cut prices by up to 30% as demand for new housing has plummeted. Public anger has poured onto the streets despite official figures showing a still-healthy property sector.

For the last two decades, property speculation in China has been a one-way bet. However, now that some desperate developers are slashing prices for unsold units, many existing owners have begun protesting outside the sales offices, demanding compensation.

The property protests have not been limited to Shanghai and, in some instances, have even turned violent. In Xiamen, in China's south eastern Fuijian province, anger spilled out on the streets after the price of one luxury villa was cut by 2 million yuan (£225,000) having sold for more than 5 million (£560,000) a year earlier.

Such was the bitterness at the price drop, the developer — China's largest residential real estate company, Vanke — was pressured to pay out a million yuan (£112,000) in compensation to around 100 existing owners.

Similar protests in Shangrao, Xiamen, Guiyang, and Hangzhou saw property owners demand the return of their money from construction firms, amid fears their losses could be much larger than in a previous downturn in 2014.

However, official data suggests that China's property market is up 7% over the past 12 months, and grew 1% in September alone, but other figures suggest interest in new properties has recently fallen by almost a third.

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