Pricey land has urban Chinese buying condos as cemeteries

SHANGHAI - In the world's most populous country, people are having difficulty finding a "home" of their own -- both before and after death.

China's population is aging rapidly due in large part to Beijing's long-standing "one child" policy. As many as 10 million people die each year in China, and that number is expected to rise going forward.

But this has raised a grave concern for Chinese citizens, especially those who dwell in major cities; they are facing a dire shortage of cemetery sites amid higher land prices in such places as Shanghai, Dalian and Guangzhou. Many of China's urbanites are desperately searching for a resting place for their family members' cremated remains.

One 32-year-old woman, a real estate agent in Chongming Island, about 50km north of Shanghai near the mouth of the Yangtze River, has received a growing number of inquiries for local condominiums. Potential buyers are looking for a condo for "Paiyongchang" -- which literally means "having a use" in Chinese but in this context implies "in lieu of a cemetery."

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