Chinese social media censors posts about protests sparked by country's mortgage crisis
China is currently facing a mortgage crisis, sparking protests from homebuyers who are threatening to boycott payments
. However, social media companies have stepped up on censorship, blocking messages, keywords, and videos of demonstrations.
Frustrated buyers gathered in Wuhan earlier this month, outside the office of a bank regulator, saying that they wouldn't make payments
for more than 300 unfinished properties across the country. These projects include some from developers such as China's Evergrande, whose chairman was just forced out.
Censors have also been deleting references to mortgage boycotts and online petitions, even as China's Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission asked banks to provide credit to developers that need more financing for their projects.
Overall, analysts estimated the total amount of at-risk mortgages in the country to be somewhere between $150 to $370 billion.
This move to censor news is hardly surprising for a communist country like China, where social media companies are required to censor or remove content that "undermines social stability" such as mortgage protests. (Related: Chinese developer Evergrande misses bond payment, default "inevitable.")
In their Twitter-like app, Weibo, the hashtag #stopmortgagepayments has been blocked, while searching the hashtag brings a notice that says, "Due to related laws and rules, the topic page cannot be displayed."
A protester from Henan province said a video he uploaded on ByteDance-owned Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) protesting the mortgage crisis was among the top trending videos at one point but has now become unavailable.
Douyin also blocked a video that showed homebuyers' fingerprinted notices declaring a boycott of mortgage payments, as per screenshots obtained by Reuters
, saying the video "didn't pass scrutiny."
Another protester said he was unable to share videos about the crisis via their messaging app, WeChat.
Censorship is not limited to social media. Analysts at some securities and research firms were also advised not to discuss the protests because of an "order from above." An employee at a developer firm was also told by his boss that staff had been banned from commenting on the crisis.
Mortgage payments unlikely to cause major stress in banking system
Owen Gallimore, head of credit analysis of the Deutsche Bank's Asia Pacific flow-trading desk said the threats of stopping mortgage payments are definitely worrisome, but it is unlikely to cause major stress to the Chinese banking system.
Incomplete projects make up only a small portion of China's mortgage market, which is mostly limited to already struggling developers – more than 30 of which have already defaulted because they can't sell new offshore debt.
China also doesn't have many mortgage delinquencies, with banks often requiring large down payments. Their bad-debt ratio of mortgages was less than 0.5 percent in 2021. (Related: On the brink of economic collapse: How China's fall will affect the world
Housing officials in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, said they would begin monitoring developers' use of escrow funds. In Tianjin, authorities are now asking developers how much money they would need to borrow to speed up construction on delayed projects.
Find more stories about online censorship at Censorship.news.
Watch the video below for more information about China's ongoing financial crisis:
This video is from the GoneDark channel on Brighteon.com.
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