The Ministry of Civil Affairs is expected to issue new rules to
curb the rampant speculative trade in public cemetery land.
Ministry spokesman Cao Jie said civil affairs and the
Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council met last Monday to
discuss how to revise the regulation, which was promulgated in
He did not elaborate or say how soon the revised version would
The Chinese newspaper Legal Daily quoted an official
with the ministry as saying the research work on revising the
regulation, which started in 2002, had entered a "crucial"
The official told the paper that the revised funeral affairs
regulation would impose a maximum fine of 500,000 yuan (US$64,000)
on illegal graveyard trade.
He pointed out many graveyard developers had taken undue
advantage of the loopholes in the current regulation, which does
not clearly prohibit speculative sales of coffin pits.
The revised rules, he said, stipulate that public cemeteries can
only sell coffin pits to customers who produce death certificates.
Otherwise they will face a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 yuan
(US$12,800 to 64,000).
The provision is also applicable to those selling coffin pits
larger than the standard.
A guideline issued by the ministry in 1998 prescribed that a
single cinerary urn pit should not surpass one square meter and a
single coffin pit should not surpass 4 square meters.
The new regulation sets up stricter disciplines for cremation
affairs. For example, it stipulates crematorium administrators who
cause environmental pollution by using sub-standard cremation
equipments will be prosecuted.
The revised version standardizes and advocates environmentally
friendly burials such as "sea burial" and "river burial".
In recent years, the speculative trade of coffin pits has become
increasingly unrestrained, resulting in soaring prices and seething
In Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, the
average price of coffin pits in a public cemetery is now 7,800 yuan
(US$1,000) per square meter while the city's average house price is
less than 4,000 yuan (US$513) per square meter.
The city's average coffin pit price was less than 5,000 yuan
(US$641) per square meter two years ago.
Yang Hu, a funeral affairs official of the city, said it was
customers that actually supported the high price of coffin
"People can choose other means of preserving cinerary boxes, or
they can choose sea burials or tree burials, which are more
economical and civilized," Yang said.
For example, preserving cinerary urns in funeral parlors costs
less than 100 yuan (US$13) for each box per year.
In China, the traditional belief that a dead person can have a
peaceful afterlife only if buried in a grave, is still widely
(China Daily April 3, 2007)