Minitrue: Control Commentary on Xiong’an New Area

The following instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.

All websites take note to control negative commentary related to the establishment of the Xiong’an New District. Add related keywords for filtering in the backend, and delete malicious comments. (April 3, 2017) [Chinese]

On Saturday, Xi Jinping was quoted by state media announcing that an economic backwater in northern Hebei Province  would be developed into the Xiong’an New Area, a special economic zone in the style of those established under the rules of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. The South China Morning Post’s Zhou Xin reports on state media’s coverage of the announcement:

The new district, initially covering an area of 100 sq km but expanding to 2,000 sq km later, would play a central role in Xi’s plan to integrate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, Xinhua said.

The special zone was expected to house many non-government facilities, including markets, schools, research institutions and hospitals, that would be relocated from Beijing, Xinhua added.

The district covers three counties in a rural area around Baiyangdian Lake. According to local government data, the combined gross domestic product of the three counties – Anxin, Rongcheng and Xiongxian – was about 20 billion yuan last year, or less than 1 per cent of Beijing’s GDP.

[…] Xi said the new district should be an “internationally first-class, green, modern and smart city”, and set an example of good public services and economic openness.

[…] The Xiongan district plan marks the first time the idea for a new zone came directly from Xi. [Source]

The announcement reportedly sparked a speculative real estate bubble which officials are scrambling to cool. The New York Times’ Ailin Tang reports:

Local Chinese officials have moved to freeze purchases and make other moves to cool the local market, according to local agents and news media reports. Chinese social media showed photos of new property developments and real-estate offices with signs saying they had been temporarily closed.

In the town of Baigou, about 12 miles north of Xiongxian, prices for an apartment jumped to 12,000 renminbi per square meter — or more than $160 per square foot — from 8,750 renminbi within hours after the announcement, according to Wen Yunlong, a local real estate agency. On Sunday, it rose by another 3,000 renminbi, he said.

“Prices have gone up every day,” Mr. Wen said. [Source]

More on the real estate scramble and speculation freeze from the South China Morning Post’s Mimi Lau:

Home prices in Xiong county, an economic backwater, soared overnight from 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) per square metre to 17,000 yuan per square metre, mainland media reported.

Shanghai-based news portal Thepaper.cn reported that would-be buyers were lined up outside real estate offices.

“We don’t normally have many visitors and there isn’t any industry here either but my housing estate was packed with so many outsiders all of a sudden. They arrived in fancy cars like BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rovers,” one resident was quoted as saying. [Source]

Censors have in the past targeted online information that could affect the property market: for example, deleting social media accounts that spread “rumors” on real estate regulationsforbidding negative commentary on news of the expected scrapping of property purchasing limits; and cooling down rapid investment in 3D-printed housing by ordering all related financial news offline.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.