China Ageing Development Foundation, a fund under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, has teamed up with investors in Hong Kong and Dubai for an aggressive plan to build 12 upmarket retirement and health resorts on the mainland and overseas to tap the country's rapidly greying population.
"Population ageing in China is expected to lead to a burgeoning demand for aged-care services over the next 40 years. It is now recognised that the ageing of China's population will have far-reaching implications for society, for the economy and for the ability of the government to meet the expectations of the community," the consortium said in a written reply to questions from the South China Morning Post.
"With this trend comes the demand to provide high-care residential and community care places for elderly that are able to accommodate varying mixes of accommodation with different levels of support and medical care."
Other members of the consortium are Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Endowment Industry Investment Development (CTFE) - which is not related to Chow Tai Fook Jewellery or the family of the company's founder Cheng Yu-tung - and Pearl Dubai, a developer in Dubai.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has issued a new policy encouraging the development of such facilities.
CTFE has acquired a three million square foot residential-hotel project near Palm Jumeirah Island, Dubai, for US$1.9 billion. It is part of the 20 million square foot, US$6 billion project being developed by Pearl Dubai.
The three partners would develop eight retirement and health resorts in China and four overseas in the next six years, the consortium said.
"[The] first such development will be in Dubai," it said without elaborating.
The resorts would each be about four million sq ft in size and comprise hotels, community retail, various amenities and residences, it said.
Last year, about 123 million people in China, or 9 per cent of the population, were aged above 60. A report released by a government think tank forecasts that China will become the world's most aged society by 2030. By 2050, the number of elderly people in the country is likely to swell to 330 million, or 25 per cent of the population.
But the supply of homes for the elderly is limited, and they are of poor quality.
CTFE said parts of the newly acquired asset within the Dubai Pearl project would be resold.
The Dubai Pearl project is scheduled for completion in late 2017. It will provide homes for 9,000 people and a workplace for 12,000.
Overlooking Palm Jumeirah Island in the heart of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone, the development is backed by a consortium of investors led by Abu Dhabi's Al Fahim Group.