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(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-10 09:05

Crack down on land speculation

Land speculation has become a main source of profits for real-estate developers and if related departments do not act to address the issue, it is likely to cause severe problems concerning people's livelihood.

The reasons for the prevalence of land speculation are obvious. First, it is easier for developers to get loans if they are holding extensive land parcels. Second, although local governments are supposed to push developers to start construction or revoke land-use rights if they fail to develop an acquired plot, the policy has never been enforced seriously. Third, property developers make big money from hoarding plots.

All the factors, however, point to the absence of supervision. If developers had been punished for land hoarding, who would have risked lending money to them?

In addition to neglecting their duty, some local governments have gone even further. Earlier this year, experts revealed that some government departments took over land at low prices and sold them to developers for a 10-fold profit. In this process, many government officials dipped their fingers into the realty pie.

In order to crack down on land speculation, several steps should be taken. First, it is necessary to strengthen supervision of vacant land. Given the fact that some local governments are tempted by fat profits, the Ministry of Land and Resources should make joint efforts with the Ministry of Supervision and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Party to investigate land usage. Second, the reform of local governments' monopolistic holding of land is vital. Third, major developers and State-owned realty companies should be checked since they play the most important role in the business.

Xiao Yao You


Supervise entrapment

Traffic police in Pudong New District, Shanghai, have been under fire recently because they used entrapment to lure drivers who run unlicensed cabs and confiscate their vehicles. Are the judicial authorities and the executive branch entitled to use entrapment, then? I'm afraid they are.

First, there is no substantial legal provision against applying the practice to law enforcement. According to the Criminal Law, illegal evidence cannot be used as the basis of fact. Yet it doesn't clearly define "illegal evidence". Accordingly, we can't decide whether it is illegal.

Second, it has been common practice for police to set traps in their investigations. Bugging, going undercover and seeking help from informants have all been broadly used to fight against drug smuggling, illegal firearm sales and terrorism. Therefore, Pudong police are not pioneers in using the method.

Third, entrapment is also a widespread investigative technique all over the world. Without entrapment, neither the "Watergate scandal" nor the "Iran-Contra affair" would have been uncovered.

As a result, it is the Pudong police's tendency to accumulate wealth, rather than entrapment, that is against the law. And, to avoid violation of people's basic rights in the name of entrapment, the practice should be under close supervision of the Party and its disciplinary agency.

Wei Dongsheng

via e-mail

(China Daily 11/10/2009 page8)