China aims for target of 6M public homes in 2014

Dec 21, 2013, 3:24 AM EST

BEIJING, Dec 21 (Reuters) - China aims to start building at least 6 million units of public housing next year, state media said on Saturday, reinforcing a government effort to supply more low-cost homes to counter record property prices.

But next year's target is lower than the 2013 objective, even though China built more public homes this year than it had planned, Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

The country began building 6.7 million units of public homes this year and has completed 80 percent of them, Xinhua said. The government had intended to start work on 6.3 million units in 2013 and finish building three-quarters of them.

Large-scale construction of public homes in China not only supports growth in the world's second-largest economy, it also helps to quell discontent over soaring house prices.

Yet some have in the past criticized China's public homes - also known as affordable housing - as being ineffective because they say good apartments are set aside for officials, leaving poorly built ones for the public.

China's house prices rose at their fastest pace on record last month in defiance of a four-year government campaign to calm an exuberant property market.

(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Robert Birsel)