BEIJING'S economic controls and austerity measures to dampen property speculation have triggered a sharp fall in China's new property development growth. According to the State Statistics Bureau, which was quoted by the state-run China Daily yesterday, investment in real estate in the January-June period was less than a third of the 145.3 per cent growth rate recorded for all of 1993. In the first five months of last year, real estate investment jumped 115 per cent. But over a similar period this year, property development rose by only 44 per cent. The slowdown, bringing the country's excessive investment in fixed assets under control, was seen as a good indication that government controls were working and the goal of a soft landing in the fast growing economy was achievable. Economists yesterday attributed the slowdown to the austerity measures imposed by Beijing in July last year. They also pointed to the newly imposed controls on the supply and speculation in China's real estate market. Nomura Research Institute's China economist, Nick Ni, said: ''Property and fixed assets investments have decreased sharply since September, two months after the Government imposed the macro-economic controls, which included a variety of credit restrictions.'' The measures, imposed by economic supremo and Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji, were aimed at cooling skyrocketing inflation and included controls such as recalling bank loans diverted for unauthorised purposes, mainly land and construction investments. Mr Zhu also introduced tighter controls on bank loan approval methods and the cessation of all unauthorised fund-raising exercises. Mr Ni said new real estate property developments were seriously hit without credit financing. But he said the growth level of 44 per cent was still high despite a sharp drop compared with last year. Mr Ni said he expected the growth of investment in new property development to continue to drop slightly in the second half. ''But it is hard to predict how much it will drop,'' he said. David Faulkner, a partner at real estate consultants Brooke Hillier Parker, said the fall in investment in new real estate development was partly due to investors' caution in face of the oversupply of property projects in various Chinese cities in the past year. Investors were much more cautious towards China's property market in view of the huge supply of residential projects coming onto the market, he said. The slowdown in property development helped reduce the growth rate of overall investment in fixed assets to 25.2 per cent in the first half of the year, less than half the 61 per cent expansion in the same period a year ago, the China Daily said. Total capital investment in the first six months of this year came to 450.5 billion yuan (HK$401.8 billion). Cooling speculative real estate development has been a cornerstone of the Government's efforts to reduce inflation in the fast growing economy. Retail prices rose 19.8 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.