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Why foreign investors should stay?

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)

08:07, October 20, 2012

(Photo/China Daily)

When the property market sneezes, everyone catches a cold in China: this is often the catchphrase used by economists to explain the close links the sector has with the Chinese economy.

But after several months of "bubble threats", the property sector in China is looking ahead with confidence as new projects and foreign investment deals have put the wind back in the sails of the industry.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the world's largest public pension fund with assets of more than $238 billion (183 billion euros), had said in August that it would invest $530 million in two new real estate funds of the ARA Asset Management for commercial property investments in China, especially office buildings and malls. ARA Asset Management is controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing.

The property market in China was once described as the "most important sector in the known universe" by Jonathan Anderson, the former chief global emerging markets economist at Swiss bank UBS. His prediction was not far off the mark considering that the fortunes of several bulk commodity industries across the world, particularly the iron, steel and cement sectors, are directly linked to the industry.

In 2011, the total investment in the Chinese property industry jumped by nearly 28 percent over the previous year to 6.17 trillion yuan ($981.6 billion; 765.7 billion euros), according to data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics. That amount is more than four times the total foreign direct investment in the United States of $227.9 billion in the same year.

Such is the importance of the real estate sector in the Chinese economy that its share in the overall GDP had more than tripled to 6 percent from a decade ago, according to information provided by the NBS.

Though the industry growth has been phenomenal in the last few years, it went through a turbulent phase recently as demand flagged and prices remained static.

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