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Mao Zedong

31 August 2006

September 9 this year will mark the 30th anniversary of China’s late chairman Mao’s death.

Ever since he passed away, the transformation towards a market economy has made China almost unrecognisable. Yet some things remain the same: Mao’s portrait still looms over Tiananmen Square, and he is still revered by hundreds millions of Chinese as the icon of the modern China and the hero of the independent nation.

In fact, he has become increasingly more popular in recent years. The Chinese edition of the biography Mao Zedong, written by Ross Terrill, has sold 110,000 copies since January. There are total 10,000 Mao-related titles on the market and all sell well.

But no where his popularity is more evident than on the Chinese Internet, which is ruled by his biggest fans, the young generation of Chinese born between late 70s and early 80s. There are countless blogs and websites devoted to him. Among them, a site called Mao Zedong Thought has so far received 100 million hits since it was set up by the end of 2000, that is about 50,000 hits a day.

As he is so popular among China’s young, looks he will remain popular for a long time.

Late Chairman Mao Zedong, from the left to right:
in his 20s - in his 40s - in his 60s

Beijing’s Courtyard Residence for sale

Beijing is going to sell 20 traditional courtyard residences (siheyuan) in September, and the public auction will open to everyone, Chinese and foreign nationals.

There are only about 500 siheyuans in Beijing right now, mainly in the east and west parts of the city. The biggest property covers an area of 600 sqm with a price tag stands at several ten million yuans.

There are three factors that determine the price: the location, the history and the condition of the building.

In terms of the location, generally speaking, the properties in the east and west part of the city are more expensive (20,000 yuan per sqm in average) than that of in south, for instance Congwen and Xuanwu districts (8,000 to 15,000 yuan per sqm).

When the history is concerned, the older the siheyuan the higher the price. If a house is associated with a historical figure or contemporary VIP, it will be viewed as more valuable.

As for the building condition itself, the most crucial part lies in its orientation - sitting in the north and facing the south is forever more desirable. The other important factors to take into considerations include the immediate environment, the infrastructure services and the renovation potential.

In recently years, the price of the siheyuan grew at a 10 to 20 percent annual pace. With the limited number of the original siheyuans left, the price can only go up further.

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