Ex-gover­nor of Liaon­ing gets top hous­ing post

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By AN BAIJIE and ZHENG JINRAN

China’s top leg­is­la­ture ap­pointed a se­nior of­fi­cial with rich ex­pe­ri­ence in hous­ing re­form as min­is­ter of hous­ing and ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment on Fri­day.

Chen Zheng­gao, 62, got the post af­ter mem­bers of the Na­tional People’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee con­vened for their bi­monthly ses­sion.

The min­istry is in charge of pol­i­cy­mak­ing in ar­eas such as China’s real es­tate mar­ket, the plan­ning of ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and the reg­u­la­tion of af­ford­able hous­ing.

Chen was a col­league of Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang’s be­tween 2004 and 2007 when Li was the Party chief of Liaon­ing prov­ince. Chen was then mayor and Party sec­re­tary of Shenyang, the cap­i­tal of Liaon­ing.

In April, Chen left his post as Liaon­ing provin­cial gover­nor, which he had held since 2008, to be­come Party sec­re­tary of the hous­ing min­istry.

The nom­i­na­tion of Party of­fi­cials is han­dled by var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, while min­is­ters are ap­pointed by the Na­tional People’s Congress.

Chen’s pre­de­ces­sor, Jiang Weixin, who had served as min­is­ter since March 2008, reached the re­tire­ment age of 65. The re­tire­ment age is 60 for reg­u­lar work­ers and 65 for min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cials.

Chen was known for the hous­ing re­forms he brought to Liaon­ing prov­ince since 2005. Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics show that from 2005 to 2011, the Liaon­ing provin­cial govern­ment im­proved res­i­den­tial con­di­tions for 2.11 mil­lion people.

Liang Qi­dong, vice-di­rec­tor of the Liaon­ing Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, a think tank used by Chen when he was in the prov­ince, said Chen was very ef­fec­tive in his work.

Chen’s ex­pe­ri­ence in hous­ing re­form will help him han­dle the job of min­is­ter in charge of the coun­try’s hous­ing poli­cies, Liang said, adding that re­forms of the af­ford­able hous­ing sys­tem are likely to be deep­ened.

Some chal­lenges lie ahead for Chen. For ex­am­ple, he may face more re­stric­tions from var­i­ous in­ter­est groups on a na­tional stage, which is dif­fer­ent from a smaller provin­cial plat­form, Liang said.

Among other fac­tors, the min­istry faces a tough prob­lem in deal­ing with the property mar­ket be­cause of the over­all eco­nomic down­turn and emer­gence of a po­ten­tial hous­ing bub­ble, he added.

China’s property mar­ket has cooled since late last year af­ter a decade of boom times. In May, new home prices in half of a sam­ple of 70 ma­jor cities showed month-on-month drops, con­trast­ing with just eight in April, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data re­leased last week.

Mean­while, home prices in big cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai re­main un­af­ford­able for many people.

On June 26 last year, the State Coun­cil set the goal of elim­i­nat­ing shan­ty­towns for 10 mil­lion fam­i­lies in the next five years as a mea­sure to im­prove people’s liv­ing con­di­tions. Li said in March that the cen­tral govern­ment aims to im­prove hous­ing for at least 4.7 mil­lion fam­i­lies this year.

On Thurs­day, the China Bank­ing Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion an­nounced that it ap­proved China De­vel­op­ment Bank’s es­tab­lish­ment of a hous­ing fi­nance depart­ment in an ef­fort to sup­port the ren­o­va­tion of run­down hous­ing.

The com­mis­sion said in a state­ment on its web­site that the move fol­lows the de­ci­sion by the State Coun­cil in April to speed up the ren­o­va­tion of shan­ty­town ar­eas.

Wang Juelin, for­mer deputy di­rec­tor of the Hous­ing and Ur­ban Pol­icy Re­search Cen­ter un­der the min­istry, said that since the cen­tral govern­ment has listed shan­ty­town ren­o­va­tion as one of its pri­or­i­ties, al­lo­cat­ing more funds to those projects, Chen is likely to fol­low the lead, giv­ing more at­ten­tion to this ef­fort and aim­ing to achieve bet­ter per­for­mance for it. Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Chen Zheng­gao, the newly ap­pointed min­is­ter of hous­ing and ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment

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