Thu, Feb 16, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Land abuse cases jump in China, more oversight planned

Reuters, HONG KONG

Chinese authorities are moving to tighten oversight of illegal land development following a spike in land abuse cases last year, some of which garnered national attention and sparked violent standoffs, state media reported yesterday.

Chinese media reports have said that the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources recently held “secret” meetings with senior land officials in at least nine provincial governments nationwide, including in Guangzhou and Shanghai, to address and look into the abuses.

Last year, there were about 70,000 cases of illegal land usage, an increase of 5.8 percent 2010, involving about 50,000 hectares, the ministry said, according to the China News service.

The soaring cost of land and property prices in China have magnified the incentives for developers and officials to aggressively acquire land for new projects in cities and rural areas, sometimes antagonizing local residents and villagers.

One prominent recent case involved the southern Chinese village of Wukan in Guangdong Province, when villagers rebelled against brazen land grabs in a drawn out standoff that was only defused when Chinese Communist Party Guangdong Committee Secretary Wang Yang (汪洋) granted the villagers key concessions.

Wang is seeking to avoid serious policy mistakes that could damage his prospects for promotion during a key leadership change later this year that will see Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) retire to make way for new leaders.

In Guangzhou, the supervisor of state land pledged to revisit illegal land usage cases to “comprehensively supervise and reform” the effectiveness of supervision and oversight, the China news service reported.

Li Jianqin (李建勤), a land resources enforcement director, reportedly said that burgeoning land demand and limited supply amidst rampant economic development, the number of illegal land use cases, especially for large-scale projects, was high, particularly in western China, the Economic Information Daily reported.

Of the 70,000 cases last year, about 42,000 cases were investigated and resulted in the return of about 3,800 hectares of land, the report added.

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