Chinese bidders bought three of four islands that were up for sale in an auction on Taobao, China's largest online-shopping platform. The bidding began Wednesday and the three islands -- belonging to Greece, Canada and Fiji -- were sold within 12 hours of being put up for sale on the site.
At least 48 bidders took part in the auction to buy the islands, of which only the one in the U.K. remained unsold. The Greek island was bought for 4.8 million yuan (about $770,000) by a construction magnate from the southwestern province of Yunnan, who also bought the Canadian island for 1.7 million yuan. The island in Fiji was sold with 99-year rental property rights for 5 million yuan to a businessman in Zhejiang province, while the others were sold on a freehold basis, according to China Radio International (CRI English), a state-run radio station. The qualifying bid for the auction was set at a deposit of 1,000 yuan, The Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
“We chose to work with Taobao as a strategic partner, because it is undoubtedly the most influential online shopping platform in China right now. Our bidders in this auction were long-time users of Taobao who have spent about 10 million yuan on it” so far, Ilongterm, the real-estate firm that held the auction, said, according to PTI.
The winning bidders will now be taken to the islands for on-site inspections and for the completion of procedures like paying taxes, commissions and legal expenses, CRI English reported. Interest in Chinese islands, which can be only owned for a maximum of 50 years, is also limited because there are several restrictions on how they're used, while most islands overseas are sold freehold, the report added.
In 2014, seven overseas islands were sold and wealthy Chinese citizens have shown a growing interest in such properties over the years. "We are catering to rising demand for overseas properties among these groups. We're sure to offer more such projects in the future," Taobao said, according to CRI English.