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New Ordinance Aims to Combat Illegal Land Use

China released a land survey ordinance Thursday to strengthen management, protect arable land and promote the sustainable development of the country's economy.

Under the ordinance, China will launch a national land survey every 10 years and conduct a land change survey annually.

The ordinance release comes after more than 2,700 officials were last month referred for prosecution on land use violation charges involving more than 220,000 hectares.

This followed a 100-day campaign to crackdown on local governments that illegally transferred household land to property developers.

As GDP growth played a crucial role in official promotion, local governments have often acquiesced to illegal land use to attract investment.

China currently faces a severe farmland shortage.

China's arable land declined from 122 million hectares to 121.8 million hectares in 2006.

The drop meant China almost hit the official bottom line of 120 million hectares.

The national land survey will include changes in land use, owners and conditions.

The release of the ordinance aims to plan and protect the nation's land use.

Almost a quarter of new land acquisitions in Chinese cities from October 2005 to October 2006 were illegal, the Ministry of Land and Resources said.

During that period, 51 percent of new land use projects in 90 cities were illegal.

(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)

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