Offer of cheap houses provokes debate

Updated: 2011-11-29 07:52

By Wu Yiyao (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - A tycoon famous for his outlandish charitable stunts is offering to sell property at huge discounts to people who have made significant contributions to the nation.

Chen Guangbiao received cheers and jeers for his new venture, which he explained in a video clip posted on his micro blog on Saturday.

His plan is to sell real estate to people in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, for 16 percent less than its market value, which he says is aimed at promoting the idea that property prices in China should be reduced.

However, there are conditions. In Chen's posts, which gave detailed descriptions of four properties up for grabs - two villas, an apartment and an office - he stipulated that buyers must be permanent residents of Nanjing and have contributed greatly to scientific research and development.

In addition, he also plans to charge for the properties' interior decoration and furniture, and wants buyers to pay in cash.

"I would like to pioneer the sales pattern in Nanjing, and if the bidding and sales go smoothly, I'll promote this pattern to other areas in the country," he said in the 15-minute video clip.

According to Chen's conditions, the two villas will each cost at least 10 million yuan ($1.57 million), an amount that does not include a monthly 8,000-yuan maintenance fee residents will have to pay.

"Many of my friends have talked to me saying they are interested in the properties," he said in the video. He added that he will welcome all bids and the bidding process will be transparent.

Chen's proposal, which first came to light on Nov 22, has caused a stir among Internet users and the media.

As usual, for every person who applauded his efforts there was a critic who accused him off simply seeking publicity.

Chen, chairman of Jiangsu Huangpu Recycling Resources, could not be reached on Monday for further comment.

However, in earlier interviews he denied claims that he is selling the properties because he is running out of cash. He said that if no sale is successfully completed by Wednesday, he will consider other ways of dealing with the properties.

Han Fang, a researcher in the field of laser engineering, said he felt upset when he read Chen's post.

"It looked at first as if Chen wanted to help us researchers, but on second thought, it's unlikely a researcher will have so much cash at hand," he said.

Chen, who has dubbed himself one of China's greatest philanthropists, is no stranger to controversy.

Previously, he has given pigs to people who had listened to him sing in Guizhou province, and has smashed up a Mercedes Benz with a bulldozer to promote the use of low-emission vehicles.