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Tighter Chinese capital controls push property firm to shift sales strategy

A Chinese property developer is overhauling its showrooms promoting a major overseas development in order to broaden its sales strategy amid stronger capital controls.

Country Garden is temporarily shutting sales centers in China for its flagship $40 billion Forest City housing development in Malaysia partly in response to stronger government measures that are making it harder for people to move money out of China.

The decision is "to better fit with current foreign exchange policies and regulations," the company said in a statement.

Country Garden also stressed that this move was "not a knee-jerk reaction to [the] Chinese government's policy implementation," and that it had always planned to appeal to global buyers beyond China, including the Middle East and Europe.

A slowing economy and weakening yuan has prompted Chinese to seek better returns elsewhere, shifting money out of the country at an unprecedented rate. Capital outflows hit yet another record high last year, with a total of $725 billion leaving China, according to the Institute of International Finance.

Beijing has responded with stronger measures in attempts to keep more money onshore, making it much harder for both individuals and companies to invest abroad. It's a move that has hit overseas sales of property developers, which have historically been somewhat reliant on wealthy Chinese to snap up units. About 70 percent of Forest City's buyers thus far have been mainland Chinese, for instance.

Forest City has been touted as a major green living concept with numerous amenities from high-end retail to parks. There are also plans for a light rail transit system and a ferry network with links to Singapore.

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