Land requisition law may see light of day soon

By Wang Jingqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-15 07:06
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BEIJING - The long-awaited new urban land requisition regulation might be released by the end of December, or an updated draft version may be published to seek public opinion again, a legal expert close to the legislators said on Sunday.

Shen Kui, a law professor at Peking University, told China Daily that the long-delayed draft amendment to the existing Regulation on Demolishing Urban Housing is not "strangled in cradle" as many people have speculated.

But he admitted that the delay since a draft version was made public to solicit public opinion was unprecedented.

"However, the revision is a must before we can make any further amendment to the Land Administration Law and reform our regional finance and taxation systems," Shen said.

Shen is one of the five Peking University professors who suggested the existing urban housing demolishing regulation be revised, after the death of Sichuan native Tang Fuzhen, who set herself ablaze to protest the forced demolition of her house, last year.

The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council published a draft amendment to the existing regulation to seek public opinion in January, but no progress has been reported since then.

Experts have expressed worries that the resistance from local governments, whose finances heavily rely on real estate development, impeded the legislative procedure.

Shen said the Legislative Affairs Office received more than 60,000 opinions about the new draft regulation.

"China is huge, with different regions in different development phases," he said. "Some underdeveloped areas still need construction to propel the local economy, and local governments of those regions find it difficult to implement the amendment if it is passed."

The draft amendment stipulates that houses can only be demolished to serve "public interest". Residents must be paid full compensation before they move out. Relocations can take place if and when at least 90 percent of residents agree with the compensation proposal.

The existing regulation has no such requirements. Local governments today have the authority to force relocations before compensating the owners.

"We're not against urbanization or development, which has already become an irreversible trend in the modern world, but it should be a gradual instead of leaping process, and during that process, people's rights, especially rights stipulated by law, should not be trampled on," Shen said.

Experts also said besides revising the regulation on the demolition of urban housing, legislation on confiscating rural land should also be initiated, as nowadays almost 80 percent of forced demolitions occur in rural areas.

On Oct 28, the Standing Committee of National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said the amendment to the Land Administration Law would take the acquisition of rural land into consideration.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/15/2010 page4)