A small town in northern China described as “poverty stricken” has seen its housing prices soar by as much as 90 percent in one month after China secured the 2022 Winter Olympics bid, making the town a co-host for some of the events.

Chongli County, a settle of roughly 120,000 people administered under Zhangjiakou City, is experiencing a property boom around its ski resorts. Many of its high-end residential projects around skiing facilities saw their prices soar over RMB10,000 per square metre, according to property websites.

One compound, the Morte Fontaine International Apartments, named after a castle in northern France, saw its per-square-metre selling price rise 93 percent, from RMB5,680 in late July to RMB10,980 in early August, according to property trading forum Fang.com.

Chongli residents earn a yearly disposable income of RMB20,749 per person, the local government said on its website. The town was listed as one of 592 “state-level poverty stricken towns” in China by the central government in 2014.

Chongli was a host city for a national skiing championship last year. Photo: Chongli government website.
Chongli was a host city for a national skiing championship last year. Photo: Chongli government website.

The local government says on its website that it aspires to build Chongli into “China’s Davos.” The Swiss town is known for its ski resorts and as the host of the annual World Economic Forum.

The Great Wall Ridge Ski Resort in Chongli. Photo: cclski.cn

Chongli currently has over 80 skiways – a number it plans to more than triple by 2020 to 228, the government said in 2013.

Gerhard Heiberg, a Norwegian member of the International Olympic Committee, said that Chongli is the best place in China to host the Winter Games when he inspected the town last year, according to state-run paper China Daily.

To qualify for alpine skiing events, however, International Ski Federation regulations stipulate that a vertical descent of 950 meters is needed for downhill events. Since the mountains around Chongli only reach about 650 meters, skiing, snowboarding and sliding events will instead be held in a former nature preserve in suburban Beijing.

Both venues will have to “rely completely on artificial snow,” according to an IOC evaluation report.

A rendering of the Morte Fontaine International Apartments. Photo: fang.com

A sales person from Morte Fontaine International Apartments told a Beijing newspaper the compound mainly caters to high-end buyers from Bejing and Tianjin.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.