Land-use abusers to be targeted

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, 12:00am

China will step up efforts to punish widespread abuses of land use in a bid to preserve the country's diminishing supply of arable land, a senior Ministry of Supervision official said yesterday.

Qu Wanxiang, the ministry's deputy chief, made the commitment after identifying 10 'typical' cases of illegal land use discovered during a nationwide crackdown.

This was the first time authorities had released results of the 100-day investigation, launched in October last year in collaboration with the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Misappropriation of land by mainland officials not only threatens the country's already limited supply of arable land, but also generates unrest among landowners, mostly peasants and migrant workers.

The central government has reportedly set a minimum of 120 million hectares of arable land, but there are just 121.8 million hectares available for cultivation, state media reported.

The 10 cases singled out by the Ministry of Supervision included government officials ignoring the need to acquire land-use permission from higher authorities, improper transfers of farmland to property developers and arbitrary expansion of development zones.

Mr Qu said the ministry punished 56 people, including 19 senior officials, involved in the 10 cases, and the files of eight others had been handed over to prosecutors.

Some of the regions involved were Tianjin, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong and Shaanxi .

Mr Qu warned that a rigorous crackdown was essential to root out the widespread land-abuse cases.

Since the start of the year, mainland authorities have investigated more than 22,000 land-abuse cases, figures from the ministry revealed.