China’s ‘three red lines’ strike delicate balance between curbing real estate debt and local government finances

As China moves to tackle excessive borrowing in the real estate sector, it is walking a tightrope between providing cash-strapped local governments with revenues from land sales and keeping a lid on rising house prices.

Chinese regulators in August tightened funding conditions for 12 major property developers, setting caps on the amount of debt they could hold in relation to cash on hand, the value of their assets and as a proportion of equity in their businesses – dubbed “the three red lines”.

Last week, mainland financial newspaper the 21st Century Business Herald reported authorities had asked large banks to keep the proportion of property loans below 30 per cent of all new loans, citing unidentified sources.

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Property sales growth has surged this year, helping the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

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