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Reform to End Violent Demolitions

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The updated draft of the long-awaited new urban and land requisition regulation may ban forced demolitions ordered by administrative departments and offer owners compensation based on the property's market value, legal experts close to the legislators have said.

The draft revision is likely to cancel the stipulations in the existing urban housing demolition regulation that grant government departments the right to order compulsory demolition, said Shen Kui, a law professor at Peking University.

Shen is one of the five Peking University professors who suggested the existing urban housing demolition regulation be revised, after the death last year of Sichuan native Tang Fuzhen, who set herself ablaze to protest against the forced demolition of her house.

Xue Gangling, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, also told the Beijing Times that the new draft regulation will require all forced demolitions to follow legal procedures and get court orders.

Xue also said the new draft regulation will offer owners compensation based on the property's market value, and the compensation could come in various forms rather than be solely financial.

Another highlight of the new draft revision is that real estate developers may be banned from participating in demolitions, according to Xue.

In recent years, China has witnessed a string of violent forced demolitions, triggering a growing public outcry for new laws on land reacquisition and home demolition, which are expected to better protect the rights and interests of property owners.

The State Council Legislative Affairs Office in January published a draft amendment to the existing regulation to seek public opinion, but little progress has been reported since then.

Experts have expressed concern that resistance from local governments, whose finances rely heavily on real estate development, impeded the reform process.

However, both Shen and Xue said they are unclear about when the new regulation will be adopted, but said they hope the legislative procedures will be more transparent.

(China Daily November 25, 2010)

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