onsdag 18. mai 2022

Coal, Once a Boon, Turns Chinese Rustbelt City Into a Bust

When internet giant NetEase Inc. offered a free apartment in Hegang city as part of a marketing gimmick to promote online game Nishuihan, it was a sign the once-prosperous coal-mining hub in Northeast China had reached rock bottom.

The winner was even given the option of cashing in the 89-square-meter or larger apartment for 50,000 yuan ($7,858), just in case they didn’t fancy moving to the city — with a population of 891,271 at the last census — located in Heilongjiang province and some 50 kilometers southwest of the Russian border.

Many of the 1 million people who entered NetEase’s giveaway in March posted comments on Nishuihan’s social media account wondering just how an apartment could be that cheap. In Beijing, China’s capital, homebuyers would be lucky to get 1 square meter for 50,000 yuan. The average price of a second-hand home in Hegang has been stagnant at around 2,000 yuan per square meter for the past few years and in April was the lowest among 312 cities monitored by Qingdao Xitai Real Estate Data Co. Ltd.