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China aims to build over 7 million public homes this year

A garbage collector walks past residential and office buildings in construction, in Hefei, Anhui province, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
A garbage collector walks past residential and office buildings in construction, in Hefei, Anhui province, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to start building more than 7 million units of public housing this year, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said on Saturday, signaling the latest government move to counter high property prices.

The government intends to finish building 4.8 million units this year, the ministry said on its website.

Large-scale construction of public homes in China not only supports growth in the world's second-largest economy, it also helps to quell discontent over rising house prices.

Yet some have in the past criticized China's public homes - also known as affordable housing - as being ineffective because they say good apartments are set aside for officials, leaving poorly built ones for the public.

The government has spent more than four years trying to tame record home prices on concerns that they were stoking an asset bubble and some see the efforts bearing fruit.

China's home price inflation slowed to an eight-month low in March.

Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 7.7 percent in March from a year earlier, easing from the previous month's 8.7 percent rise, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last week.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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