Beijing is trying to cool the economy by policing property supply to developers A crackdown on the illegal use of land has uncovered 16,000 cases during the first quarter of this year, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources chief says. Of those, 9,900 cases have resulted in investigations, Sun Wensheng told a seminar yesterday. He was quoted by China Central Television as saying the campaign had helped reduce the amount of land used illegally in local development zones - especially arable land taken out of production and used for other projects. Provincial governments this year were given 45 days to review all the new land development projects that were started last year, then report illegal cases to the ministry. The reports are due at the end of next month. The central government is trying to cool the economy by cracking down on redundant and poor-quality projects and regulating land supply and uses. In February, the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources ordered the suspension of approvals for all new development zones. The ministry urged local governments to even close some existing development zones in an effort to curb the unchecked development of rural regions. Since the regulation of land use started last year, more than 130,000 cases of illegal land use have been discovered. The cases involved 55,900 hectares of land, half of which was farmland. Meanwhile, Mr Sun said attempts to reduce over-investment in some sectors by limiting land supply had yielded results. 'Through strict land supply to sectors included steel, metal, cement and electrolysed aluminium, and the regulation on land supply for real estate uses, [we can] achieve equilibrium in demand and supply, a stable land price and a balanced structure in the land market,' Mr Sun said. The amount of land approved for development in the first quarter of this year was 46 per cent less than the same period last year. Despite the reduction, he said there was still more than 2.4 million mu (160,000 hectares) of land earmarked for development that had yet to be used. Of the available land, 46,600 hectares was in the hands of real estate developers. Land abuses have created violent conflicts and social unrest on the mainland as officials often seize land illegally, evicting residents, mostly farmers, with little or no compensation. In one of many recent cases, Gansu villager Jiang Yingjun was in a five-hour confrontation with police on Thursday, threatening to set himself on fire with petrol. Mr Jiang had refused to surrender his family's farmland to the local government, the Lanzhou Morning Post reported. On the same day, a villager in Beijing's Chaoyang district attempted to burn his home after the court ruled he would only be paid 280,000 yuan in compensation for being relocated to make way for a development. That was far below his demand of 750,000 yuan, the Beijing News reported.