Nation all out to rein in land abuses

By Shangguan Zhoudong (
Updated: 2007-06-27 11:22
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The Chinese government is taking a slew of measures to curb land abuses as part of an effort to rein in housing prices that have run wild nationwide.

The State Administration of Taxation issued a circular on June 25, canceling local governments' rights of approving certain preferential tax policies for developers. Developers, no matter whether they are in a difficult situation or not, should pay land-use tax before selling property to consumers, according to the circular.

China is also trying to save on land and keep the area of arable land no less than 120 million hectares at least by 2010, Yun Xiaosu, vice minister of Land and Natural Resources, said on June 25 to mark the country's 17th National Day.

Now the per capita arable land is only 0.09 hectares, less than 40 percent of the world average. The contradiction between the ever decreasing arable land and the ever increasing population makes the preservation of arable land an issue of vital significance to the country's future food security.

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China will start its second national land survey on July 1 to obtain up-to-date and accurate land data for policy making.

Advanced remote imaging technologies will be used to survey all the land used for different functions including farmland, forests and land used by industries, infrastructure and development parks. Acreages and their distributions will be mapped and recorded nationwide.

The country will survey every plot of land to get information on ownership and on how the land is used, and gather information on State-owned and collectively owned land.

To tighten land supply, China's capital Beijing is also probing the construction of housing on collectively-owned land in rural areas.

Beijing has ordered all developers to stop building and selling such housing and warned consumers not to buy these houses due to the fact that they have no property right certificates.

In addition to these control measures, China's land use tax now has been tripled, and ranges from 1.5 yuan to 30 yuan per square meter depending on the location.

Although the government released more policies and probed into the market many times, in an effort to control the soaring housing prices, China's property prices are still growing quickly this year.

The country's real estate investment increased to 721.4 billion yuan (US$94 billion) in the first five months this year, rising 27.5 percent over the same period last year. Meanwhile, property prices in 70 of China's large and medium-sized cities last month were up 6.4 percent from a year earlier, faster than the 5.4 percent growth rate in April.