Australia among top destinations for Chinese property investors

SYDNEY – Australia has become one of the most popular destinations for Chinese property investors, with nearly A$6 billion ($5.42 billion) invested by Chinese buyers in the local real estate market in the last financial year, local media reported on Monday.



Australia among top destinations for Chinese property investors

Chinese rushing for overseas properties 


Australia among top destinations for Chinese property investors

Top 10 trading partners of the Chinese mainland 

Chinese nationals are estimated by some financial institutions to be buying around 12 percent of the country’s new homes, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The Australian Federal Parliament’s House Economics Committee is reviewing the foreign investment laws amid fears that the local property market prices are being pushed up by overseas investors.

Kelly O’Dwyer, who chairs the House Economics Committee, told the Radio National Breakfast on Monday that the inquiry into foreign investment rules would determine whether they are still achieving the purpose, which ensures that overseas money adds to Australia’s housing stock and does not push up prices for locals.

A report by global financial services firm Credit Suisse predicted that by 2020, about 18 percent new Sydney homes would be bought by Chinese buyers while in Melbourne new home market, Chinese buyer would grow to 14 percent.

Up to A$44 billion ($39.7 billion) of property investment is expected from Chinese investors in the seven years to 2020, the report says.



Australia among top destinations for Chinese property investors


Australia among top destinations for Chinese property investors

Chinese Travel trends

Chinese Travel trends

What are the top accommodation and travel trends this year? Boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith have given their predictions.

Local life: Hotels are helping guests get to know the locals or at least get to grips with the local scene. Budapest boutique hotel Brody House champions the city’s artistic energy, holding exhibitions, readings and other cultural events for guests.

Rooms are named after the local artists whose works decorate walls, staff abound with hot tips on what to do in the area and the hotel even has its own record label, Brody House Sounds.

Stay at Claska in Tokyo and you’ll see the city’s best-dressed canines (and owners) pop by for a pooch-pampering treatment at the doggy beauty salon downstairs. Claska also has a gallery, boutique and lively bar, as well as a series of arty events held on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.

Beyond boutique bedrooms, there’s a string of services promising instant immersion with the locals – Eat With, for example, which hooks up hungry visitors with hosts happy to cook dinner for guests in their own homes.

Sleep swamis: The best hotels have been offering guests access to personal chefs, personal trainers, and health and well-being gurus for years. Now some hotels are going the extra mile to ensure that guests even have a fabulous time while they’re asleep.

Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives has a slumber guru responsible for making sure that guests get a restful night. The slumber guru’s bag of tricks includes soothing milk baths, relaxing massages and a pillow menu.

Alila Villas also takes sleep very seriously. Both Alila Villas Uluwatu and Alila Villas Soori have a pillow menu, a selection of essential oils and scented candles up their (pyjama) sleeve.

Seriously social: Like it? Tweet it. Seen it? Instagram it. The social-media savvy are here to stay and hotels are getting wise to marketing via mobile – so much so, in fact, that some have even been built specifically with social media in mind.

Take 1888 Hotel in Sydney, whose design was mapped out to maximize its Instagram-ability, and some of the Melia group hotels, where specialist concierges respond to guest requests via Twitter.

Family affair: Traveling with children in tow doesn’t have to mean compromising on style and service. Mr & Mrs Smith’s new site, Smith & Family, puts family travel first. Hotels are picking up on the trend, too.

A great example is Six Senses Qingcheng Mountain in China (set to open in 2014), which has village-style accommodation that works well for families, an excellent kids club and a panda research center just 10 minutes away where you can interact with pandas and their cubs.

Etihad is even introducing a Flying Nannies service on long-haul flights, with their nannies (specially trained cabin crew members) accredited by Norland, Britain’s leading childcare training college.

On the other hand, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and AirAsia X now offer child-free zones on some flights.

Playing Tarzan: Hoteliers have become increasingly creative when it comes to where guests rest their heads. One trend is the rise of treehouse hotels.

Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses in New Zealand has been giving visitors a natural high for a while but wannabe Tarzans and Janes can now also cuddle up in the canopies at grand country manor Chewton Glen, Hampshire, as well as at Japamala Resort and Bunga Raya in Malaysia.

Beyond the bedroom: Rather than simply providing a space to bed down for the night, hotels are offering even more bang for your buck. They are increasingly places where guests and locals alike can while away the hours, and not simply head straight to their rooms.

The Ace Hotel Bar at the Ace Hotel New York (winner of the Hottest Hotel Bar at the inaugural Smith Awards in November 2013) and The Zetter Townhouse in London are a scene unto themselves.

And while a great bar can put a hotel on the map, lobbies and libraries are jostling for recognition too. Try swinging by the photo booth in the lobby at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club.

Distracting destinations: With the World Cup kicking off in June, 2014 is set to be all about Brazil. Beyond Rio, visit the melting pot of Bahia for its forested interior and stylish seaside resorts, and Ponta dos Ganchos in Santa Catarina for beachcombing and jungle roaming.

Mr & Mrs Smith predicts the southern states of America are on the up, so watch out for Austin’s cool and the understated but sophisticated Zero George Street in Charleston.

Look east to Japan, the next cool kid on the block, which offers Claska in Tokyo, or Beniya Mukayu in Kanazawa. Don’t neglect Sri Lanka – Mr & Mrs Smith website recommends Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo and Casa Colombo in the capital.

Hot hotels: The minimalist masterpiece that is Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, Canada, is set to make waves on the hotel scene. It won Best Newcomer at the Smith Hotel Awards 2013 because of its soul-stirring location and incredible interiors.

This year, keep your eyes peeled for the opening of Grace Marrakech in Morocco, the Pig near Bath in Britain and Alila hotels in India (Alila Fort Bishangarh in Jaipur) and Oman (Alila Jabal Akhdar).

Delayed reaction: Delays to a journey are always a nuisance but travelers can now choose from a range of services designed to take the sting out of lengthy waits. In the Netherlands, VertragingsApp is an iOS app that offers readers short stories based on the length of their delay.

In Australia, Qantas Airways has created a range of books carefully selected to correspond with flying times.

Based on research that shows the average reader can finish about one page a minute, Stories For Every Journey is a collection of novels and non-fiction titles that are the perfect length to be enjoyed between take-off and landing (allowing breaks for meals, naps and bouts of leg-wiggling, of course).

Room service: Shaken and stirred. In 2013, the New York Hilton Midtown stopped offering breakfast in bed for the residents of its 1,980 rooms. Mr & Mrs Smith predict a fresh approach to in-room snacking from other hotels, too.

Public Chicago leaves a breakfast bag at your door and The Upper House has gone high-tech – guests can order from an iPod touch.

Reuters has not endorsed this list.

Rich district shifts its focus to quality of life

ByXuXiao (ChinaDaily)

Rising govt revenues make social initiatives possible

Relying on the wealth accumulated during six decades of economic growth, authorities in the Siming district are now focused on improving public living standards.

The district was established in 1950 in Xiamen, Fujian province. It is now the economic, political and cultural center of the renowned coastal city.

The district government said “fortune” and “happiness” are the key words for today’s Siming.

The local officials pointed out that increasing government revenues are an important indicator of public fortune and a major financial resource that the government uses to improve the local quality of life and for other social undertakings.

In 2012, the district reported government revenue of 13.3 billion yuan, an increase of 20.3 percent year-on-year, signaling record growth in the past five years.

In the first half of 2013, government revenue approached 9.1 billion yuan, the largest of all the cities in Fujian.

The officials said the fortune comes from the city’s abundant business opportunities brought by its born geographic advantages as a close neighbor of Taiwan, as well as its preferential policy environment as a part of a city that is listed as one of the four special economic zones in China and a pilot in cross-Straits business cooperation.

Tourist attractions

The unique natural environment there also makes the district appealing to both residents and tourists.

Embraced by mountains and sea, Siming district has a pleasant climate.

There are several renowned tourist resorts along the 10-kilometer beaches. Fifteen of Xiamen’s top 20 resorts are located in Siming.

The most attractive among all the resorts is the 1.77-square-kilometer Gulangyu Island, which is about 500 meters away from the city proper across the Lujiang River.

Featuring blue sea, green trees and colonial-style houses, the serene island is also known as “the garden on the sea”.

According to the district government, Siming’s tourism revenue reached 39.2 billion yuan in 2012, accounting for 70 percent of Xiamen’s total.

In recent years, the government has highlighted the service industry and several emerging industries.

It has a booming high-end consumer goods market, making it a trend leader in Xiamen as well as Fujian province.

The Paragon Center is Fujian’s first and largest high-end shopping mall, gathering some 80 globally renowned brands, including such luxury names as Gucci, Burberry and Montblanc.

Another luxury shopping mall called China City has a 200-meter-long corridor for showcasing renowned watches. Here consumers can find luxury watch brands, including Piaget, Jaeger-Le Coultre, Omega, and IWC.

China City also has the first Ferrari and Maserati showrooms in Fujian province.

In addition to these luxury shopping malls, high-end hospitality business is another propeller of Siming’s development.

In Siming, there are 48 star-rated hotels, accounting for 61 percent of Xiamen’s total.

Many hotels combine first-rate facilities with Siming’s regional characteristics.

For instance, the Hotel Nikko Xiamen gives guests a sea view through French windows in the rooms.

The district is also on its way toward becoming a luxury yachting hub of Xiamen, with the Shangshan International Yacht Club now under construction. Local government officials said “the club is expected to introduce a new lifestyle to local people” when becoming operational.

Pivotal role

Siming district is playing a pivotal role in Xiamen’s initiative to build a cross-Straits financial hub.

According to the district government, in the first half of 2013, the district’s financial and insurance enterprises generated revenue totaling more than 6.6 billion yuan, an increase of 9.3 percent year-on-year.

Government officials said these companies have offered strong financial support for local growth and cross-Straits business cooperation.

Another driver of growth is Siming’s advantages in terms of high-quality human resources. The district is home to several renowned higher learning and research institutes, including the prestigious Xiamen University.

The district government has also implemented a talent plan, with a 100-million-yuan fund to support talent development.

The district also regularly hosts academic activities, inviting famous experts and scholars to give lectures to local researchers and students.

Amid rapid economic and social transformation, the local government wants to make sure that all the residents, especially those lower-income families, can enjoy a better life.

One of the efforts is the “warm-heart supermarket”, an invention by the district in May 2004. In these supermarkets, donated goods are displayed on shelves and needy people can choose what they want for free.

The goal of the supermarket is to let people get help while keeping their dignity, government officials said.

So far, 1,200 families have received continuous help from the service.

Now the “warm-heart” initiative has evolved into a public welfare brand, including 11 supermarkets, 26 online schools, six classrooms, 12 canteens and 40 community funds under the same name.


Families feel the pull of ‘gravity’

More Chinese parents moving overseas to be with children, Yu Ran reports in Shanghai.

An increasing number of young Chinese who left home to study in overseas universities have decided to settle in their host countries. They have secured good jobs, married and are raising families. Now many are urging their parents to join them.

Liang Lixia, a 55-year-old retiree from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, has been living for three years with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in a large, three-story house in Auckland, New Zealand.


Families feel the pull of 'gravity'

Ma Xuejing/ China Daily


“My daughter chose to stay in New Zealand after graduation. My husband and I respected her decision and have tried to make her life easier by moving here to live with the family,” said Liang, who has been granted permanent residence in New Zealand after being sponsored by her daughter, an accountant at a local company.

The country’s parental “Center of Gravity” regulations mean parents can be sponsored for residency if “the principal applicant parent has no dependent children, and the number of their adult children lawfully and permanently in New Zealand is equal to or greater than those lawfully and permanently in any other single country”, according to the website of Immigration New Zealand.

“I came here to take care of the 4-year-old and make sure that my daughter and son-in-law have more time and energy to earn money for the family. That means I am just a babysitter for the moment,” laughed Liang.

China has become New Zealand’s largest source country for immigrants approved through the parental category, accounting for 47 percent of all immigrants in the country last year.

On average, 10.7 percent of immigrants to New Zealand were aged 50 or older in 2012. However, the number from China accounted for 39.9 percent of the total, meaning four in every 10 Chinese who gained permanent resident status in 2011 and 2012 were within that age group, according to the latest statistics from Immigration New Zealand.

“We applied for permanent residence simply to spend more time with my daughter and her young family,” said Liang.

Her daughter began studying in New Zealand in 2002. She married a local man in 2008, two years after graduation, and gave birth to a baby girl a year later. When the little girl was 3-months-old, she was taken to China so Liang could look after her, leaving the parents free to devote themselves to their fledgling careers. Two years later, the girl was taken back to New Zealand to attend kindergarten.

Liang now spends her days in Auckland taking care of her granddaughter, cooking and keeping the large house spick and span.

“I also have time to drive around and take part in some of the activities of the nearby Chinese community. I am also trying to learn English,” she said.

With regard to her future plans, she is unsure if she and her husband will continue to live with her daughter in their later years.

“Although the living environment is good in New Zealand, we would still prefer to spend our later years with friends and relatives back in China – it’s where we belong, it’s in our blood.”

She added that they will probably return to live in China permanently in two or three years when their granddaughter begins primary school. After that, they will travel to New Zealand every year to spend a few months with the family.

Run for home

Zhou Zhifa has a similar story. After spending more than 10 years living in Italy, the 80-year-old insisted on returning to his hometown of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.

“We were persuaded to move away from China to help my sons start a business overseas. It’s now expanded and we’ve hired a number of local employees,” said Zhou, who used to visit Wenzhou for about three months every year. However, he has reversed the process and now spends just three months a year in Italy.

Along with his wife, Zhou arrived in Milan in 1997 and helped their sons with their chain of stores, which sell Chinese-made clothing, accessories and souvenirs.

“Initially, we imagined ourselves staying in Italy permanently, even after our sons no longer needed our help in the company, but we later realized that not speaking Italian fluently meant we wouldn’t fit into the local society and would be forced to stay at home and not go out much,” said Zhou.

The return to Wenzhou has been therapeutic for Zhou, who said he enjoys strolling to a nearby park to play chess with old friends. Meanwhile, he regularly arranges short trips to the countryside so he and his wife can enjoy the cleaner air.

Many of the younger generation, usually the only child in the family, have tried persuading their parents to spend the autumn of their lives overseas.

“My parents sent me to Canada for further study after I graduated from the University of Leeds in the UK,” said Yang Xixi, a 28-year-old financial consultant in Vancouver, who married a Canadian-Chinese man in 2012.

Since finding a job with a local company in 2009, Yang has asked her parents to live with her many times. She feels she has been away from them for too long.

“I think I am now able to let my parents enjoy their later years without the worry of making more money to provide me with a better life. Life would be complete if they could move here permanently,” said Yang.

However, her parents are still busy running their logistics company in Shenyang, Liaoning province, and have refused to move away from China.

“I am planning to have a baby in the next year or two, and hopefully my parents will change their minds for the sake of their grandchild and we can enjoy a wonderful family reunion,” she said.

According to experts, the desire is perfectly normal, especially for Chinese people who set great store in family unity, especially the younger generation whose only-child status may mean they miss the warmth of family life more keenly.

“Most of the elderly people who have applied to emigrate to countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand in the past two years are the parents of graduates who studied at universities overseas, and they have seen their children settle in the host country,” said Zhang Yuehui, a Beijing-based immigration expert.

He added that the elderly outflow is the result of a trend that has seen an increasing number of young people choose to move abroad for study or work with the specific intention of staying in the host country permanently.

Aging population

However, some elderly parents are more than willing to emigrate and enjoy a quieter and more comfortable life.

“I bought my son a house in the US when he graduated from university and applied for a masters course so he would be able to find a better job there; we looked forward to living abroad when we were young,” said Yan Keqin, a 58-year-old retired teacher from Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.

She added that she and her husband, a retired lawyer, have traveled overseas on many occasions and, therefore, are able to adapt to different cultures and lifestyles very quickly. They decided to accompany their son when he emigrated.

Now, Yan and her husband live a few blocks away from their son in Seattle. She spends most of her leisure time gardening, visiting libraries, shopping and cooking, in addition to going to her son’s house every week for a family dinner.

“The living environment is much better here than in Hangzhou; it feels as though we are on a permanent vacation; everything seems full of sunshine and fresh air and we have plenty of time to do the things we really want to do,” she said.

As a future trend, Zhang suggested that more elderly emigrants will come to realize that living overseas in their later years is a wise option.

“As the problem of China’s rapidly aging population becomes more severe, more elderly people are planning to move overseas during the next decade. They want to go to countries that offer a more extensive healthcare system, a better-protected environment and a slower pace of life,” he said.


Fitch: China’s stricter property rules will further polarize homebuilders

Stricter implementation of existing property rules will further polarize homebuilders, Fitch Ratings said in a report.

The tightened rules will lower homebuilders’ margins slightly by restricting their ability to pass on rising input costs to homebuyers.

The new rules will have no impact on homebuilders’ ratings as Fitch has already factored in the likely lower margins for homebuilders in its assessment.

The new regulations, however, will disproportionately affect smaller players with lower margins, with projects targeting speculative buyers or with high concentration in cities, which are targeted for stricter policy implementation.

Larger nationwide players, for instance China Overseas Land & Investments Ltd and China Vanke Co Ltd, will likely be less affected given their broad project mix and geographical coverage and high margins, the report said.