HONG KONG Feb 15 Chinese authorities are
moving to tighten oversight on illegal land development
following a spike in land abuse cases last year, some of which
garnered national attention and sparked violent standoffs, state
media reported on Wednesday.
Chinese media reports noted that Chinese land ministry
authorities had recently approached and held "secret" meetings
with senior land officials in at least nine provincial
governments nationwide, including in Guangzhou and Shanghai, to
address and look into the abuses.
In 2011, there were 70,000 cases of illegal land usage, an
increase of 5.8 percent on the year before, involving some
751,000 mu, a Chinese measure of land area equivalent to around
50,000 hectares, said China's Ministry of Land and Resources,
according to the China News service.
The soaring cost of land and property prices in China have
magnified the incentives for developers and officials to
aggressively acquire land for new projects in cities and rural
areas, sometimes antagonising local residents and villagers.
One prominent recent case involved the southern Chinese
village of Wukan in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong
province, when villagers rebelled against brazen land grabs in a
longstanding standoff that was finally defused when provincial
authorities under powerful Communist Party leader Wang Yang
granted the villagers key concessions.
Wang must avoid serious policy mistakes damaging his
prospects for promotion in a watershed China leadership change
later this year that will see the likes of president Hu Jintao
and premier Wen Jiabao retire to make way for new leaders.
The report noted that in Guangzhou, the provincial capital
of Guangdong, the supervisor of state land pledged to revisit
illegal land usage cases to "comprehensively supervise and
reform" the effectiveness of supervision and oversight, the
China news service reported.
Land disputes do not directly threaten Communist Party rule,
but underscore growing discontent.
Li Jianqin, a land resources enforcement director,
reportedly said that due to great land demand and limited supply
amidst rampant economic development, the number of illegal land
use cases, especially for large-scale projects, was high,
particularly in western China, the Economic Information Daily
"For supervising land issues, a communication mechanism is
crucial, and it's very important to see vigorous supervision at
a regional level," Li said.
Of the 70,000 cases last year, some 42,000 cases were
investigated and resulted in the return of 57,000 mu, or 3,800
hectares of land, the report added.
More than half of Chinese farmers are dissatisfied with
rural policies, according to a recent survey that showed rising
cases of agricultural land seizures by the state and a trend
towards bigger farms as millions leave villages for work in
(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and)