Authorities try to rein in forged land certificates

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2006, 12:00am

A notice ordering a nationwide clean up of forged land certificates has been issued by the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources.

The notice - recently posted on the ministry's website - ordered local bureaus to crack down on the production of counterfeit government stamps and land certificates. Local officials were also asked to take action against the counterfeiters' clients.

The notice said a large number of counterfeit land certificates had been found on the market. 'Some [counterfeit] land certificates have entered the ministry's internal system and they have seriously undermined the quality and credibility of [our] land registration system,' the notice said.

Forgery is rampant on the mainland, with counterfeiters producing anything from university diplomas and banknotes to car licence plates and police badges. In January, Shenzhen police busted a counterfeiting gang and seized a large quantity of fake government documents, including land certificates and government stamps, according to the Nanfang Daily.

Land certificates specify the landholder's rights and ownership, as well as usage of the site. Fraudsters have used counterfeit certificates as collateral for bank loans.

The latest notice echoed a similar order issued four years ago which stated that all land certificates should be issued by a single designated agency. Those without serial numbers assigned by the ministry would be invalid.

Liu Xutao , a political scientist with the National School of Administration, said the new notice showed local governments had largely ignored central government policies on the management of land certificates. 'It shows how chaotic and out of control land approvals are [on the mainland],' Mr Liu said.

Mr Liu said the pursuit of economic growth and profits by some local governments had resulted in many irregular land approvals.