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In theory this situation is avoidable under the letter of Chinese property law (the government could decide that your use of property harms public interests and take it from you, though that would be a very extreme interpretation). In practice I imagine banks are just as willing to issue property-backed loans under that system, while the associated corruption and lack of security in own future cause arguably bigger issues in city communities of communist China.

In general the non-use is not very widespread, and partly thanks to 唐樓 architecture there are plenty active small businesses in residential areas (I haven’t seen such abundance while staying in mainland cities). I believe the reason I saw it come up is the existence of active and conscious members of the community who are more invested in its future and sensitive to upcoming issues.

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