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Probes into Land Deals Launched

Four local governments and one development zone are under investigation for alleged violations of land management laws and regulations, the Ministry of Land Resources said yesterday.

The first controversial land deal centres on a 20-square-kilometre development zone in Tianjin Municipality, which is designed to offer logistics services. Construction of the zone began in March, allegedly without proper land use approvals.

The second alleged breach of the law was by the government of the Qingshanhu District of Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province. Residents claim the government granted a Hong Kong company the use of 400 mu (26 hectares) of land without public bidding.

The government signed an agreement with the company last August, setting a price of 100,000 (US$12,000) per mu. The company plans to build the first phase of a trade centre on the land. Ministry sources allege this contract is illegal because public bidding is a must if the land is used for business purposes.

Another three cases of illegal land use approvals involve the Qihe County and the Laoshan District of Qingdao, both in east China's Shandong Province and the Zhouzhi County in northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The ministry source said more than 168,000 cases involving the violation of land management laws and regulations have been investigated so far this year, twice the number for the same period last year.

More than 680 investigations resulted in disciplinary measures and 94 were allegedly held to be criminal matters.

(China Daily November 17, 2003)


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