BEIJING has announced a major investigation into the property market in the hope of cooling speculative deals, curbing construction and stopping tax evasion. Vice-Premier Zou Jiahua told 200 provincial land officials that property business was ''virtually out of control in some provinces,'' the China Daily reported yesterday. ''Since early this year, malpractice in the use of public land and mismanagement of the real estate market have caused heavy losses to the Government,'' Mr Zou said. Teams of investigators, including land, construction, industrial, commercial, tax and bank officials, would soon comb the property market, he vowed. Two years ago, China had 6,290 property companies. Now there are more than 20,000. In this massive expansion, property dealers have been able to evade taxes and engage in purely speculative deals, driving up land prices by 100 per cent in some areas. And local authorities have ignored Beijing's restrictions on construction on agricultural land. Last year more than 400,000 hectares of cultivated land were taken for building projects, about 50 per cent more than allowed. State land administration departments have used their powers to engage in property deals themselves. Mr Zou said the operations of such departments would have to be separated from real estate business. Mr Zou promised in particular to stop land granted by the state being resold in speculative deals. The state would also list all land used for construction under its land-use plans. Tax evaders would be severely punished, he said. As part of plans to boost the state coffers, a land value-added tax is being considered. State Taxation Administration director Jin Xin was quoted as telling a national taxation conference: ''No new tax reduction or exemption policies will be approved this year, except for a very few special cases.''