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China's plunging land sales threaten local governments

Major source of non-tax revenue dries up, squeezing budgets outside large cities

Land sales in large cities like Beijing, pictured, and Shanghai rose 30% year on year, while sales in smaller cities sank as much as 53%.   © Reuters

China's local governments sold about half as much land in the first half of this year as they did in the same period of 2021, as domestic developers continue to struggle with cash flow problems in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns that have cut into demand for housing, industry data shows.

The plunging sales of land-use rights, which are the largest source of non-tax revenue for local governments, pose a growing threat to their budgets, which have come under substantial pressure this year as officials have ramped up spending to keep COVID in check.

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