Public perceptions of foreign and Chinese real estate investment: intercultural relations in Global Sydney

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Geographer, 2017, 48 (4), pp. 437 - 455
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Geographical Society of New South Wales Inc. Moving foreign human and financial capital through landed property is not a new phenomenon in Sydney. It is a recurring geopolitical strategy that is replete with intercultural tension and deep colonial roots. In contemporary Australia, there is an assumption in public policy and media rhetoric that there is a high level of public concern about foreign investment. However, there is little empirical data that examines public perceptions. In this study, we are interested in whether the dominant voices in this debate represent broad public views about this issue. We sought to fill this gap by conducting a survey of almost 900 Sydney residents, looking at their perceptions of foreign and Chinese investment. We find high levels of public concern and discontent about foreign investment amongst Sydneysiders, with Chinese investors being a key target of this discontent. In the context of high housing prices in Sydney, there were widely held concerns about housing affordability. Survey respondents had a sophisticated understanding of what influences house prices, but with an overemphasis on the role of foreign investment. There is a general lack of support for policy that encourages foreign investment, and a lack of confidence in how the government is regulating foreign investment. Half of our participants reported that they would not welcome Chinese foreign investment in their suburb.
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