China directed banks to increase credit to struggling real estate developers Sunday in an effort to address the nation’s growing debt crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) instructed banks to provide additional funds to eligible property developers whose projects have stalled, The WSJ reported. Analysts estimated that China’s at-risk mortgages amount to between $150 billion and $370 billion.
Evergrande, one the country’s largest residential developers, defaulted under a $305 billion debt obligation in December 2021, causing a crisis of confidence to grip China’s real estate sector, Barron’s reported.
CBIRC’s directive comes after protests — both online and in-person — continued to spread across China last week, multiple sources reported. Experts, such as Gordon G. Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” believe the protests are symptomatic of China’s looming debt crisis, estimating that the nation’s total debt sits at 350% of GDP.
Homeowners protested online against paying mortgages for unfinished properties last week, according to Reuters. The online petitions — which government censors reportedly removed — identified hundreds of properties belonging to major real estate developers who have defaulted on paying off debt, such as Kaisa Group Holdings and Evergrande Group, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Uniformed and plain clothes police also attacked demonstrators on July 10 outside a Bank of China in Zhengzhou protesting against being unable to withdraw funds, CNN reported. Chinese authorities claim that several individuals who were arrested on June 18 for misappropriating bank funds caused widespread cash shortages, the South China Morning Post reported.
The directives emerge less than a week after China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced 0.4% GDP growth for the second quarter on Friday, missing the nation’s targeted 5.5% growth number, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The [GDP] results were driven by public health policies, not economic fundamentals,” Derek Scissors, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, referring to Shanghai’s city-wide COVID-19 lockdowns which began on April 5.
“June was said by the government to be much better than April and May, especially in retail sales, but the behavior of Chinese imports does not fit with that,” Scissors said. “There was a rebound in June, but it was probably weaker than official claims.”
A Chinese Embassy spokesperson told the DCNF that China was not facing an existential crisis.
“On the whole, China’s financial risks are under control and 99% of banking assets are within the safe boundary,” Liu Pengyu told the DCNF.
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