BEIJING - China's Cabinet on Wednesday approved in principle a draft regulation on home demolitions to end forced relocations by governments.
According to the announcement made after a routine conference of the State Council, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the updated proposals will be published and take effect after the State Council Legislative Affairs Office completes additional amendments. No implementation date has been set.
The new proposals forbid local governments from using administrative powers to forcibly demolish residents' properties, and disputed cases shall be determined by courts.
The draft's approval came after the office sought two rounds of public input - an unprecedented event - separated by a year. The second round lasted from Dec 15 to Dec 30.
"I see the approval as a sign of great progress in the process of administrative legislation, and it also shows the State Council's decisiveness," Peking University law professor Wang Xixin said.
"I welcome this decision and the openness demonstrated in the process."
Wang is one of the five law professors who wrote an open letter to the National People's Congress, the top legislature, urging a revision of the current regulation at the end of 2009 - an event that captivated public attention.
Soon after the open letter, the State Council Legislative Affairs Office published the regulation's first draft revision and invited public discussion.
The office respectively received 65,601 and 37,898 opinions during the two rounds of public feedback. It also held 45 seminars to gather input from scholars, legislators and local governments.
"This regulation is of great importance in many realms - individuals' interests, urbanization, industrialization and the modernization of China as a whole," the record of Wednesday's conference said.
Although details have yet to be finely tuned, the conference addressed major problems about which most people are concerned. And it did so based on the principles of "balancing property owners' interests with the necessity of urbanization and industrialization", the record said.
Wang said the relationship of parties involved in this legislation is complicated.
"It'll take forever to strike a perfect balance. So it's encouraging to see the State Council approve the new rules in a timely matter before their meaning lost significance."
The most important change is a ban on local governments' use of administrative powers to carry out demolitions, which are widely recognized as sources of power abuse and tragedy.
The new proposals also require compensation for acquired property to be at least the market price.
Conference participants called on local governments and departments to strictly follow the rules after they are published.
They also mentioned the new regulation only applies to urban areas, so legislators should accelerate the revision of the Land Administration Law to address rural land disputes.