Chinese Billionaires Selling Properties as Economy Struggles

Chinese Billionaires Selling Properties as Economy Struggles

The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has impacted Chinese billionaires in the entertainment industry, who are publicly admitting to financial struggle and selling off prime real estate, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper reported on Thursday.

Hong Kong native and global action star Jackie Chan and Beijing actress Gan Wei are among the Chinese celebrities forced to auction off their properties in Beijing recently, while Chinese showbiz tycoon Zhao Benshan has listed his private jet for sale.

Zhao’s daughter, Zhao Yi-han, is well-known in China for showcasing her luxury lifestyle via live streams. In a recent social media post, she revealed that her family was experiencing financial difficulty. Zhao said she asked her parents for a car that cost around HK$7.93 million ($1.023 million) but that her request was rejected.

“It is time to be frugal and stop spending recklessly,” Zhao said her mother told her.

Zhao’s father, Zhao Benshan, “is actively looking for buyers to take over his private jet, which is worth HK$226 million (about $29 million) and requires a yearly maintenance fee of HK$5.66 million (about $730,300), at half price,” according to the newspaper.

“Chinese netizens also spotted Jackie Chan’s luxury properties in Beijing in an online auction scheduled at the end of the month,” Apple Daily revealed.

“The bidding price of his 1,217.5 square meter [13,105 square foot] condo starts at HK$80 million [about $10 million], online information shows. Chan’s company said that the flat is owned [not by Chan but] by the property developer instead and is being auctioned off as the developer is caught in financial troubles,” the report stated.

Beijing actress Gan Wei recently sold a 2,077 square foot property in the Chinese capital for HK$27.42 million (about $3.5 million) via online auction. Gan is the ex-wife of Jia Yueting, founder of the embattled Leshi Holding Group.

“The apartment was liquidated to settle the group’s swamp of debts and two other apartments owned by the former couple will also be auctioned off,” according to Chinese media reports.

“Jia, an embattled Chinese tech tycoon and CEO of American EV [electric vehicle] start-up Faraday Future, filed for bankruptcy last October. According to court filings, he now has a personal debt of 2 million yuan ($292,670),” Apple Daily wrote.

China made a rare decision this year not to set a gross domestic product (GDP) target for 2020, citing “great uncertainty” due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time Beijing has not set a GDP target “since 1990 when records began,” according to the BBC.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Premier Li Keqiang announced the decision on May 22 at the start of an annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, the CCP’s rubber-stamp legislature.

“We have not set a specific target for economic growth this year. This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic and the world economic and trade environment,” Li said.

China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, “shrank by 6.8 percent in the first quarter from a year ago as [coronavirus] lockdowns paralyzed businesses,” the BBC reported in late May. Despite this, the CCP claimed in mid-July that its economy grew by 3.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, compared to a year ago. However, many economic experts and observers view the CCP’s official economic reports with skepticism, doubting their veracity.

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