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Legal Reform Urged on Forced Demolitions

China Daily, April 5, 2012 Adjust font size:

Legal experts have called for a revision of the country's laws on land seizure, in a bid to ease tensions over forced demolitions.

Rapid urban expansion has resulted in an increasing amount of land seizures and forced demolition of homes and property.

But the rights of property owners are being constantly infringed upon due to a lack of clear-cut procedures before and after demolition, Wang Liming, a member of the Law Committee of the National People's Congress, said in a motion submitted during the annual session of the country's top legislature in early March.

Although China's Property Law, introduced in 2007, has clarified the circumstances and procedures required for the government to take over land, houses and other property, Wang said the stipulation was too general.

The law says that land expropriation should be in the public interest and property owners should be compensated accordingly.

But the term "public interest", Wang said, is ambiguous and the stipulation regarding demolition procedure is too general, and can give way to violence and forced demolition.

Last year, at least 1,480 home demolitions were carried out without the property owner's consent, and 57 officials were punished for malpractice that led to death or injury in 11 of the cases, Xinhua News Agency reported.

In one case, six offenders in Jilin Province were convicted for causing the death of a resident who failed to get out of her house when demolition started.

The amendment to China's Land Management Law, a long-awaited revision to improve land use and maximize land values, has not yet been submitted for lawmakers to read, almost three years after it was listed on the NPC's working schedule.

Zheng Zhenyuan, a legal expert on land use, said the delayed reading in some way reflects the divergent views and interests among different groups, including governments, developers and residents.

Zheng called for local governments to reform their financing policies based on land sales, which he said were a driving force behind land seizures.


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