Nation to guard against land abuses
Updated: 2013-01-23 00:00
By WANG QIAN (China Daily)
China's land watchdog says it will work to prevent abuses of land rights, as the demand for space is expected to surge this year.
"As suggested in the report of the Party's 18th National Congress, urbanization and industrialization mean more land will be needed for construction," Yue Xiaowu, deputy director of law enforcement and supervision at the Ministry of Land and Resources, said on Tuesday.
This year's land supply plan has not been released yet, but Yue said the amount will increase dramatically, posing challenges to the protection of China's fragile arable areas.
"We will expand our supervision to prevent land-rights abuses, especially involving large-scale projects such as roads and railways," he said.
Road and rail projects, which play a major part in urbanization and industrialization, are the biggest land grabbers, the ministry said.
Setting aside land for construction and important public infrastructure projects, such as railways, is a common way for Chinese authorities to show their achievements, said Yan Jinming, a professor of land management at Renmin University of China.
The soaring cost of property in China has magnified the incentives for developers and officials to grab land for new projects in suburbs and rural areas, he said, adding: "The land watchdog must keep a close eye on the next step officials take after the two sessions in March."
Unlike the severe situation in 2013, illegal land usage in 2012 decreased by 12 percent, with 62,000 cases involving about 32,000 hectares in all, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Tuesday.
Of those cases, 37,000 were investigated and resulted in the return of 2,800 hectares of land, including 1,133 hectares of arable land.
Yue was not optimistic about the decrease, however, saying that cases of illegal land usage rose in December, showing a rebound. He declined to provide exact figures.