The government is disapproving all applications for new construction and expansion of various types of development areas, according to an official from the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR). Plans for 2,046 development areas have been canceled so far.
Land resources and related supervisory and auditing departments recently embarked on a coordinated effort to strengthen investigations into illegal land use.
The MLR's law enforcement and supervisory bureau reports that in 2003 there were 178,000 cases involving various kinds of illegal land use, of which 128,000 have been concluded. The bureau publicly investigated nine major illegal land use cases that resulted in severe punishment. Local governments are working diligently to resolve such problems as defaulting, withholding or diverting compensation for requisitioned lands.
The MLR has implemented strict land protection policies to end illegal appropriation of farmland. Striking a balance between economic development and land protection has become the ministry's focus.
The MLR has developed three main methods for dealing with this issue.
Seizing land illegally occupied by development areas. The government may seize the land outright, restore it to cultivation or deduct compensatory areas from the developers' total land use quotas. Major cases will be investigated and tried. Progress will be monitored in accordance with State Council requirements, and reports announced publicly. Land developers that fail to satisfy requirements will be given deadlines for correction, and their land use quotas for construction will be suspended pending satisfactory correction of the problem.
Implement and enforce a strict, comprehensive land use plan. The MLR will implement a comprehensive land use plan, and any attempt to alter or readjust it will be prohibited. Expansion of urban and town construction projects without proper authorization is prohibited. The ministry will guarantee the inspection and approval, if given, of any construction project. It will ascertain responsibility for any damage to or reduction of essential farmland.
Improve transparency in land protection and supervision. The ministry will improve its dissemination of information concerning the national land situation and protection policies to local governments.
The ministry will also establish a mechanism advantageous to the intensive use and protection of cultivated land.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, April 11, 2004)