Beijing's new policy requiring non-residents to have paid city taxes for five years before they can buy a home in the capital has sparked angry criticism on the internet.
The rule, announced on Wednesday, comes on the heels of a call by the State Council to cool the overheated property market and is the toughest measure yet.
But it is being criticised on the internet for being unfair, even by those who claim not to be Beijing residents. Non-residents are believed to account for 50 to 60 per cent of the capital's transactions, according to property agents.
'This is city protectionism,' a chat-room contributor from Hebei said. 'Why should non-Beijing residents be required to pay tax for five years before they can buy a home? Outrage!'
His complaint was supported by a contributor from Tianjin.
Another contributor said: 'After five years, home prices will increase to a level that they cannot afford.'
One complainant said: 'This is not aimed at curbing property [prices]. It is aimed to elbow out non-Beijingers.'
Yet another chat-room contributor said: 'Isn't China moving towards a market economy? Which country will restrict people buying homes? We are going backward.'
However, some internet users in Beijing supported the new restriction.
'This is a good measure,' one said. 'If the government can make more efforts on the property tax issue, it will be even better.'
Apart from the new restrictions on home-buying by non-residents, Beijing also bans them from buying second homes and prohibits residents from buying more than two flats.
Outspoken developer Pan Shiyi, chairman of Soho China, said the home-buying restrictions imposed on non-residents would do more than just hit the city's home prices. It would also create a problem for those working in the city for fewer than five years but who fail to gain permanent residency status.
Pan believes the new policy is not only aimed at cooling home prices, but is also an attempt to curb the growing population in the city. He said it was too early to speculate on the impact of the policy on other cities.
Meanwhile, there are reports in the media that Guangzhou may announce its own property measures next week.