Win a Nobel Prize, get a house in a Beijing suburb for free

Phoebe Zhang
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Win a Nobel Prize, get a house in a Beijing suburb for free

A nondescript suburb on the eastern fringes of Beijing has been ridiculed for inviting Nobel Prize winners to come and live there for free.

It is common practice for local governments in China to offer incentives to skilled workers, and Tongzhou’s eye-catching, not to say ambitious, offer was published last week on the district’s official website as part of its wider plans to lure talent to the area.

The document said public housing in three compounds would be allocated to six categories of people who qualified as “high-level talent”.

It said those in the top tier of talent – Nobel Prize winners, Turing Award winners or national academy members – would be given rent-free housing.

The advertisement attracted derision online, with web users suggesting that it was overestimating its appeal by making its offer to Nobel Prize winners – especially as there are only two people in China who qualify at present.

“This reminds me of the joke, ‘Buy an aircraft carrier, get a 5,000 yuan [about US$725] discount’,” one internet user wrote.

“A rent-free apartment in Tongzhou? This is motivating me to win a Nobel Prize!” another said.

Beijing’s municipal administrative centre recently moved to the district, which is about 30km (18.6 miles) away from the centre, and the city authorities are trying to develop its commercial, residential and entertainment facilities to help relieve the pressure on housing and transport in the city centre.

Part of its appeal is the relatively cheap cost of living, with a two-bedroom flat available to rent for just over US$600 a month – well within budget for Nobel Prize winners who are given prize money worth just over US$1.1 million with their award.

This article Win a Nobel Prize, get a house in a Beijing suburb for free first appeared on South China Morning Post

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