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Gov't uncovers officials who misappropriate farmland
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Since October 2006, China has undertaken a series of campaigns to uncover land misappropriation and harshly punish the relevant officials. The moves are to ensure farmland area remains above 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares).

Between the launch of the initial campaign and the beginning of 2007, about 870 officials have been transferred to judicial proceedings for misappropriating farmland. Among them were more than 160 officials charged with various crimes.

The figures were released at a press conference jointly held by the Ministry of Supervision and Ministry of Land and Resources on Monday.

The ministries launched a special campaign in October 2006 to check if all cases in which local governments allocated farmland for commercial construction use from January 2005 to September 2006 were in line with state regulations.

By the beginning of this year, 22,395 illegal land appropriation cases were uncovered during the campaign. These involved farmland as large as 32,873 hectares. A total of 13,059 cases had been concluded. In addition, 1,488 officials were given Party and political disciplinary punishment.

In July, the ministries issued a circular announcing the special campaign on seeking land misappropriation would continue. In September, a 100-day special campaign was launched to check if all cases in which local governments allocated farmland for commercial construction use from October 2006 to July 2007 were legitimate.

During the campaign, 105 officials were disciplined for their involvement in land misappropriation.

Qu Wanxiang, the Supervision Ministry Vice Minister, told the press conference that the land misappropriation crackdown enhanced public awareness of lawful land use. It also curbed a rebound in land grabs and played a positive role in implementing macro-control measures.

China has repeatedly vowed to keep the country's total farmland area at the level of at least 1.8 billion mu and urged local governments to implement macro-control measures.

(Xinhua News Agency December 11, 2007)

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