China unveils anti-graft rules for urbanization drive -state media

BEIJING Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:06pm EDT

A long exposure picture of boats passing by a business area along the Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee

A long exposure picture of boats passing by a business area along the Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, March 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Lee

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has unveiled plans to tackle corruption and abuse of power in the real estate sector, state media said, as it tries to smooth the way for the mass migration of millions of Chinese into cities from the countryside.

The anti-graft plans are part of an urbanization program designed to underpin a restructuring of China's economy, the world's second largest, away from exports towards one based mainly on domestic consumer demand.

Corruption is rife in China, particularly within the state administration where many officials and their dependants have grown rich by abusing their authority, often in the areas of real estate and land ownership.

The new draft rules set conditions for the application, allocation, use and rent of public housing as well as subsidies and administrative oversight, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The rules will strengthen penalties for fraud and illegal use of public housing and specify the responsible governments and departments as well as the conditions for abuse of power, neglect of duty, bribery and fraud, Xinhua said.

House prices in China have surged over the past year, prompting worries of a price bubble and exacerbating social problems as millions of Chinese find themselves priced out of the market.

Local governments, under pressure from central authorities to cool price rises, have embarked on a series of measures including making more land available, clamping down on second-home buying and restricting mortgages.

Tough restrictions on migration also mean that many Chinese have moved into cities without the proper permission, becoming a source of social instability and highlighting the uneven distribution of the fruits of China's economic growth.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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