The Korea Herald


China should curb forcible demolitions

By 최남현

Published : May 23, 2011 - 18:48

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Forcible demolitions will not stop unless local government leaders are made to realize that they have to pay a price for exploiting land to earn revenue.

The amended regulations on requisition and compensation for State-owned land took effect on Jan. 21, but only a few local land and resources officials have been punished. The central government, therefore, has to take some strict measures to ensure that the sanctity of State Council regulations is maintained.

The Ministry of Land and Resources issued a notice early this week, saying demolitions should not start before residents are paid proper compensation. This shows the amended regulations have yet to be carried out in earnest. This is something the State Council, or China’s Cabinet, does not want to see.
The State Council’s new notice requires local governments to first find out to what extent had the regulations been implemented until the end of next month. After that, the notice says, the ministries of land and resources, housing and urban and rural construction, public security, supervision and agriculture, as well as the State Council’s Legal Affairs Office are to form joint inspection teams to review local governments’ performance vis-a-vis the amended regulations. This is the State Council’s way of adding vigor to the regulations.

Though rural land owned collectively by villagers is not under the purview of the amended regulations, the State Council has issued documents saying villagers’ interests must be protected during requisition of rural land for non-agricultural purposes.

But forcible demolitions have taken place repeatedly. The latest demolition tragedy was reported from the city of Zhuzhou, Hunan province, where a villager committed suicide by setting himself on fire when demolishers began razing his house forcibly. A resident of Xinghua, Jiangsu province, too, committed self-immolation.

These tragic incidents show why proper inspections and punishing people guilty of forcible demolitions are necessary. Seeing local departments or officials flout these regulations constantly instead of implementing them on behalf of the central authorities will shake people’s confidence in the government.

Although the inspection measure seems tough enough, the central government should order specific probes into certain forcible demolition cases or set a deadline for local governments to complete their jobs.

Also, officials found guilty of flouting the regulations should be punished accordingly.

Only in this way can the sanctity of State Council regulations on demolitions and requisition of land in the countryside be honored and local leaders made aware that there is a price to pay for flouting central government rules.

(China Daily, May 21)