China has completed a 10-year programme to demarcate provincial and county boundaries in a bid to reduce disputes over resources. More than 200,000 surveyors mapped out 62,000km of provincial borders and 416,000km of inter-county boundaries. The boundaries have been recorded in government archives and a regulation issued by the State Council to confirm the legal status of the new boundaries, the People's Daily reported. According to the regulation, which came into effect this month, regional governments and individuals will be penalised if they move the boundaries. Regional governments are also required to negotiate with their neighbours and seek approval from the authorities if they want to move a boundary for construction or development purposes. Outlook magazine, a publication under Xinhua, said more than 200,000 surveyors were deployed for the tedious and difficult task. About 100 surveyors were killed or injured while working due to 'difficult geographical conditions' or during disputes with local people. It said demarcating the boundaries was vital to ensure social stability, as disputes were common. From 1949 to 1989, there were more than 800 disputes involving 29 provinces and cities as well as 330 counties, covering an area of 140,000 sq km. Before the demarcation, only five per cent of the borders were considered legal, while another 18 per cent of the border lines were disputed. The remaining 77 per cent were borders set by historic tradition but with no legal status. Disputes were rampant on borders between Gansu and Qinghai provinces; Tibet and Qinghai; Gansu and Xinjiang; and Guizhou and Hunan. In May 2000, several surveyors endured a nine-hour beating by villagers when they attempted to settle a border dispute in southern Guizhou province. And during a gold rush in the border area between Hunan and Guizhou in 1995, there was an armed scuffle among 3,000 residents from different counties because of the ambiguous border between the provinces. Eight people were killed and about 100 injured.